Artificial Intelligence

Former Google Exec To Lead AI Tech Division At OakNorth

Former Google Exec To Lead AI Tech Division At OakNorth

OakNorth, a FinTech backed by SoftBank, has hired former Google executive Sunil Chandra to lead its artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology arm.

The Financial Times is reporting that Chandra will take the lead in a newly formed position at OakNorth Artificial Intelligence, which is a tech platform that aids decisions about crediting, and its licensed out to other lenders in the business.

“We’re growing at such a clip that it’s logical to make sure we’ve got the appropriate focus in the right places,” OakNorth Co-founder Rishi Khosla said. “I’ve always been heavily involved in both the bank and the platform — having someone smarter than me fully dedicated to the platform now is a good idea.”

Khosla will still handle the leadership of the overall group as well as OakNorth Bank, which mostly handles lending for middle-sized businesses. However, Khosla is looking to the future and said the tech part of the company is going to become more and more important.

“The platform is where the focus is,” he said. “If you look out a few years we want to have hundreds of billions of assets on it. The U.K. bank will continue to be there, but it is effectively our lab — it enables us to continue proving the proposition.”

The platform has doled out around $12 billion in loans, which includes about $4 billion by OakNorth Bank and $8 billion by third parties like NIBC Bank in the Netherlands. The company has been fairly tight-lipped about the other companies that are using its platform, but it did say that there were 12 other clients.

Softbank’s Vision Fund led a $440 million investment round in the company. OakNorth has opened offices all around the world, pressed the accelerator on hiring, and doubled the size of its team of engineers.

“We’re continuing to invest in all parts of the team,” Chandra said. “It’s still very early days in terms of what we want to be able to build.”

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