x.ai is an artificial intelligence-driven personal assistant who schedules meetings for you. X.ai has raised $44 million to tackle a substantial small problem: scheduling emails. When emailing to set up a meeting, a user copies firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to take over the logistics. These bots process natural language in order to set up a meeting the way a human assistant would — but for much less money. Instead of sending several emails back and forth to find a time to meet, a user can copy in a pretend person, an artificial intelligence that reads your calendar and suggests times for the recipient.
Until recently, AI was still incapable of processing human language accurately, so companies emerged with a new hybrid approach, a mixture of machines and humans, where algorithms crunch calendars and meeting locations while human assistants reply to customers. The monthly fees for assistant services however can rack up to thousands of dollars which becomes problematic for many businesses. The best way to get around the problem is to substitute human labour altogether and create a fully autonomous AI scheduler.
Dennis Mortensen took up this challenged when he started X.ai. Mortensen pitched his idea to VC firms eager to get in on the AI boom, and within a year he hired a team of data scientists and software engineers and started tackling the problem.
He launched the first edition in October 2016, with an entry-level price of $39 a month. It’s now $17 a month. Eventually, Mortensen envisions the Ingrams will simply reach into everyone’s calendars and set up meetings effortlessly. “Scheduling nirvana,” he calls it.