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20 January, 2021 - 16:23 By Tony Quested

Chatrath leaves Secondmind to foster fresh technology startups

Co-founder and CEO Vishal Chatrath has sent shock waves through the Cambridge UK technology community by quitting his role with Secondmind.ai – formerly PROWLER.io – after five years to focus on launching and helping other young and exciting ventures.

Having shaped VocalIQ into a $100m target for Apple, Chatrath built a formidable team at PROWLER which rebranded last year.

Secondmind, whose decision engine technology helps executives formulate better decisions for their companies, has fashioned a three-person team to caretake Chatrath’s role until a new CEO is identified.

Chatrath says: “January 2021 marks exactly five years from the moment Dongho Kim, Aleksi Tukiainen and I dreamt about creating a research-driven company, founded on a contrarian view that challenged the prevalent AI understanding. We knew decision-making would be at the heart of it, but did not expect such a brilliant group to share our dream.

“I am proud of what we delivered: over $60 million funding, impact of AI on real business decisions, great clients, over 60 papers, our first patents & multiple awards. But the thing I am proudest of is that for all our focus on machine intelligence, we built a unique, human-first company culture.

“It is now time for change. I've been planning this for a while. With the brand relaunch successfully behind us, this is the right time to go. 

“I leave confident Secondmind is in the good hands of a team with expertise on scaling and commercialising our technology. As a major shareholder I will cheer the progress and help as needed.

“I have a passion for technology and building innovative company cultures. I will devote my time to the startup community, mentoring founders and  working on innovative solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. 

“I want to thank everyone who helped me over the last five years. Building a company is not the work of one founder, but a great team.”

Secondmind chairman Carl Edward Rasmussen added: “It has been my privilege to work with Vishal for more than four years. During that time, Vishal has established a formidable Cambridge team combining leading machine learning and AI expertise with commercial partnerships across several commercial sectors. He will be missed at Secondmind but I wish him all the best with his future endeavours.”

Secondmind reiterated that Chatrath left on good terms and would remain engaged with the company as one of the major shareholders.

A statement prepared for Business Weekly said: “The board and Vishal have been discussing this transition for a few months and have been actively looking for a new CEO to lead the company in its next phase of growth. 

“A decision was made at the start of the year to accelerate this plan. A new Office of the CEO has been appointed in the interim to take the company forward and preserve business continuity, while the search for a new CEO continues. 

“The Office of the CEO comprises Juha Seppä, Chief Operating Officer; Gary Brotman, Chief Product Officer; and Peter Bullivant, Chief Financial Officer, all of whom are the existing leadership team that have carried the company to this point and will continue to do so moving forward.  

“Over the past year Secondmind has gone through a significant transition from a research-centric company to a thriving commercial business. A milestone in this transition was our rebrand as Secondmind in September 2020.

“We also debuted the Secondmind Decision Engine, our versatile cloud-based decision-making platform that leverages five years of innovative machine learning research to help global leaders in Sea Freight like Kuehne+Nagel make smarter space demand decisions and leading automotive companies like Mazda significantly reduce engine calibration time in production and accelerate time to market for the company’s industry leading fuel-efficient cars. We are poised to continue this positive momentum in 2021. 

“The company is well-capitalised, bolstered by recently secured capital from existing investors based on our strong fundamentals and progress towards the commercialisation of our technology. The board and the Office of the CEO are focused on ensuring we have a long enough runway to maximize our chances of success.”

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