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Google DeepMind founders Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman back music ticketing app Dice

Sam Shead | July 16, 2015
The AI gurus who cashed in when Google bought their company are splashing out on the London startup.

rock concert music

Two of the three Google DeepMind founders have backed an app-based music ticketing service called Dice, the FT reports.

Mustafa Suleyman and Demis Hassabis were among a group of investors that backed the startup in an unreported £1.3 million round last month, building on the £1 million it raised in August last year.

Dice, available in a handful of UK cities and founded in 2013 by music veteran Phil Hutcheon, bills itself as a music ticketing service "run by fans for fans".

Unlike rivals Ticketmaster and Seatwave.com, the company does not take a booking fee when music fans purchase tickets over its platform. It also has a waiting list system that gives fans that didn't secure a ticket during the initial sale the opportunity to buy a ticket at face value.

The Shoreditch-based company has 24 employees but this number is set to grow to 40 by the end of the summer as it expands into Europe and the US.

The company currently has no obvious revenue stream. Instead, like many of today's app-based companies, it is focusing on building its user base.

"The focus right now is growth," Hutcheon told the FT. "Once we get millions of people in all the major cities in the world then there are countless monetisation plans and to be honest we keep coming up with better ideas as we develop the technology and see how fans use it in different cities."

The continued support from Suleyman and Hassabis, who also backed the company at launch, is likely to be a major boost for Dice.

The pair founded DeepMind in 2011 with Shane Legg. All three founders studied challenging courses at top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge and UCL.

Hassabis, arguably the most intelligent on paper out of the cofounders, was a child prodigy in chess reaching chess master standard at the age of 13. He also graduated with a double first in computer science from Cambridge. After graduating he ran several companies for a number of years, before returning to academia to obtain a PhD in cognitive neuroscience.

Early investors in DeepMind include PayPal founder Elon Musk and Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn.

DeepMind was subsequently bought by Google in 2014 for an unknown price, although some reports suggest the deal could have been worth up to £400 million.

Today the Google division is based out of an office in King's Cross, where it employs approximately 150 people.

Suleyman gave a rare talk on the work he and his team are doing at Bloomberg's London headquarters last month.

 

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