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Porsche Ventures Invests in Cresta, a Company Co-founded by the Former Head of Google's Self-driving Car Project

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【Summary】Porsche Ventures, the venture capital arm of the German sports car manufacturer, announced on Friday an investment in San Francisco-based AI-company Cresta, which specializes in messaging and voice communications. The company’s AI-powered software will help provide Porsche owners with a more intuitive way to communicate with their vehicles or via the automaker’s customer support channels.

FutureCar Staff    Jan 29, 2021 4:15 PM PT
Porsche Ventures Invests in Cresta, a Company Co-founded by the Former Head of Google's Self-driving Car Project

Porsche Ventures, the venture capital arm of the German sports car manufacturer, announced on Friday an investment in AI-company Cresta that specializes in messaging and voice communications. The company's AI-powered software will help provide Porsche owners with a more intuitive way to communicate with their vehicles or via the automaker's customer support channels.

As part of the investment, Cresta's AI-powered software will be rolled out across Porsche Cars North America, to enhance the customer support experience. 

San Francisco-based Cresta was co-founded by Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Google's moonshot research and development subsidiary Google X as well as Google's self-driving car project. 

In 2020, Cresta was named by Forbes as one of the top 50 most promising AI companies. The list is made up of U.S.-based companies that are using artificial intelligence in meaningful business-oriented ways. To be included, companies need to be privately-held and focused on fields such as machine learning, natural language processing, or computer vision.

The first product to use the Cresta software will be Porsche Connect, which is a suite of services and smartphone apps that supports the features of Porsche vehicles, including the new electric Taycan sedan.

Initially, Cresta's software will support new chat functions via Porsche Connect. Cresta's solution can handle the inquiries directly or connect customers with representatives when needed. 

Cresta software can support customer service personnel, providing real-time coaching and automated assistance as they interact with Porsche customers. 

Porsche said that its own research shows that owners expect digital options to connect with the company, including online chat, which is also in demand by auto dealers as a replacement for having to call to inquire about something.

This type of customer support can also be accessed in Porsche vehicles. Vehicles equipped with Cresta's software will support chat functions that can get the answer quickly for Porsche customers.

For example, a driver planning a trip in their electric Porsche Taycan sedan might use the vehicle's Charging Planner to calculate the fastest route and charging stops along the way. But if a driver needs some additional information, such as how to activate free charging at an Electrify America EV charging station, they can get an answer quickly.

EV charging operator Electrify America is Porsche's charging partner. Taycan owners are offered 3 years of free charging at any of Electrify America's coast-to-coast charging sites.

The enhanced chat features are expected to launch in the Porsche Connect smartphone app later this year. This will ensure immediate response or if needed, assistance by a service representative, Porsche said. 

Cresta's AI-powered software enables brands like Porsche to learn from every customer conversation and improve over time so Prosche can better serve its customers in the digital age.

"Porsche and Cresta are a great fit, and more importantly, the solution will directly benefit our customers," said Stephan Baral, Head of Porsche Ventures Region USA. "The rollout of Cresta's software in our digital ecosystem will be a notable change, and the nature of their AI engines means the customer experience will only continue to improve."

Further rollout is in the planning stages to streamline communications across PCNA customer touchpoints, including helping customers find their ideal car using the automaker's online search platform Porsche Finder, or asking about the details of a current vehicle lease or finance plan via Porsche Financial Services.

"This partnership happened because of the vision and hard work of the Porsche Ventures team. This is a great opportunity to realize that vision and to prove Cresta's technology with one of the most prestigious, high-performance automotive brands in the world," said Zayd Enam, CEO and co-founder of Cresta. 

Porsche Ventures engages with top entrepreneurs across the globe using regional investment teams to discover innovative new companies. This enables startups such as Cresta to be identified worldwide at an early stage.

Cresta is also backed by notable venture capital firms Greylock Partners and Andreessen Horowitz.


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