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I.am+, the tech startup founded by pop star and entrepreneur will.i.am, has raised $117 million in venture funding, the company told Reuters on Monday as it announced its entry into the corporate computing market with a voice assistant for customer service.

The company, founded in 2012, initially focused on consumer electronics devices such as headphones. The new artificial intelligence product, similar to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, marks a sharp departure for the firm, which now employs about 300 people.
Its most recent funding round, an $89 million investment by a group including Salesforce Ventures, closed in March but had not been previously announced.

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From Reuters. Story by Salvador Rodriguez.

Will.i.am, who rose to prominence as a member of The Black Eyed Peas, said the corporate market offered the company an opportunity to quickly deploy and develop its assistant, called Omega.

“I wanted to create something that allows us to do many things,” said will.i.am, founder and chief executive of the company, in a telephone interview with Reuters. “There’s so much you can do with a voice platform.”

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Though many celebrities and athletes including Jessica Alba, Ashton Kutcher and Joe Montana have made their way into the tech sector through investments and their own startups, most have tended to focus on consumer technology.

Read more at Reuters.

Will.i.am

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