Google-owned London artificial intelligence firm eepMind made its first profit last year and saw revenues rise.
Sales of the cutting-edge research company increased by £560 million to £826 million last year. DeepMind books most of its revenue from research it does for other companies under the Google umbrella. The company specializes in breaking new ground in AI and machine learning research that can be commercialized later.
The increase in revenue helped the business turn its first profit of £43.8 million, compared to a loss of £476 million in 2019. Business expenses increased 8% to £779 million.
King’s Cross-headquartered DeepMind was founded in London in 2010 by former video game developer and child chess prodigy Demis Hasabis. It developed a reputation as one of the best AI and machine learning research firms in the world, and Google bought the business in 2014. About half a billion dollars.
Google has heavily subsidized DeepMind since the acquisition, which has caused a cumulative loss of around £2 billion since 2014. Sales have grown exponentially in recent years as crores spent on research have started to yield results.
DeepMind is perhaps best known for developing AlphaGo, an AI engine that beat the world champion of the Chinese board game Go. More controversially, DeepMind struck a deal with NHS Hospital Trust Royal Free to process the data, which the Information Commissioner’s Office later found illegal. It was reported this week that a law firm was working on a class action case against DeepMind in connection with the case.
Last year DeepMind introduced AI technology that could predict the shape of human proteins. The progress has been lauded by scientists as a major breakthrough for drug discovery. DeepMind last year used an early version of the technology to map the SARS-COVID-19 virus.
Hasabis was among a group of experts called by the government for advice since the pandemic first broke out last year. Hasabis attended the SAGE meeting in March 2020, reportedly at the request of former government adviser Dominic Cummings.
A DeepMind spokesperson said the company made “significant progress” last year.
“Our unprecedented results in protein structure prediction were announced as one of the most important contributions AI has made in advancing scientific knowledge,” the spokesperson said. “We are excited to build on this success as we enter the next year.”