Daniel Gross, the founder of YC-backed Cue, a search engine for personal content, is joining Y Combinator as a partner. Coming hot off a stint as a Director at Apple focusing on machine learning, Gross will be bringing some fresh AI flair to YC’s existing team.
Gross first found his way to Apple after Cue, formally called Greplin, was acquired by the company for $40 million back in 2013 for its predictive search capabilities. After spending the last three years in Cupertino, Gross was ready to get back to his entrepreneurial roots.
While at Apple, Gross was present for the rapid fusing of machine learning with iOS and Mac OS. He cites specific efforts to intelligently pull contact information from correspondence and seamlessly integrate it within apps like Contacts.
His departure from the computing giant comes at an interesting time. Apple has slowly been becoming more vocal about its internal AI efforts, publishing a paper on adapting GANs and making CMU’s Russ Salakhutdinov the public face of its progress.
In a conversation with TechCrunch, Gross told me that he still has ambitions to get back on the startup grind.
“I would like to start another company and I don’t exactly know when I will do that, but for the time being, I’m committed to being at YC,” asserted Gross.
It’s this drive that makes Gross’ value-add go farther than than that of a simple machine-learning wonk. As a former founder, who has been through the YC program, he hopes to provide advice on putting together successful companies from the ground up — regardless of domain.
“I felt like I almost owed it to this institution that very much gave me my career,” said Gross.
Gross will be following in the footsteps of many new investing partners before him, taking his time to observe the inner mechanics of YC before attempting to leave his own mark.
In the short term, Gross will be helping startups prepare for demo day which is coming up in March. Once he finds his footing and settles into the new role, he wants to explore ways that machine learning could become a bigger part of YC’s workflow.
Venture firms like SignalFire have built a brand around their data-first approaches to investing. It’s probably safe to say that YC won’t be going fully-autonomous anytime soon — but exploring new ways disruptive innovation in AI could transform venture is a pursuit that most venture firms are embracing at some level.
In addition to Gross, YC is also announcing some other new additions to its ever-evolving staff. The group has found an Associate General Counsel in Stanford Law educated Nicole Cadman. Steven Chan and Tatyana Veremyova will be joining as Office Manager and Finance Controller respectively.
And finally, Stephanie Simon, co-founder of restaurant-finding app Murmur, will be coming on board to fill the role of Admissions Manager. She will be working with Fred Benenson and YC partner Dalton Caldwell to help review and process applications.