You are your daybook: Tempo AI raises $10 million to build a smarter calendar
Calendar apps are treasure troves of personal information. They know that your birthday is on Monday, your dentist's appointment is on Tuesday, and your bi-annual lunch with your mother-in-law is on Wednesday. And, if you're patient enough to deal with cludgy interfaces and disparate services that don't communicate well with each other, you might be able to access some of that information yourself. Maybe.
Dealing with many existing calendar applications is a bit like dealing with email: There's too much information sent by too many people who don't care that your inbox -- or your day -- is already too full. It's enough to make you wish that someone had coined the term "Calendar Zero," ignore future requests, and start to consider hermitry with a newfound appreciation. That is starting to change, however, and Tempo AI is today announcing that it has raised a $10 million Series A led by Relay Ventures and Sierra Ventures to continue helping you maintain a grip on your calendar -- and your sanity.
The funding will be used to help Tempo AI build an "assistive layer" into Tempo Smart Calendar, an iPhone app we described as a "more focused Google Now." You can already use Tempo Smart Calendar to make calendaring a bit easier -- the app will auto-dial conference numbers, grab LinkedIn data about whoever you're meeting with, update flight information, and much more. The application is chock-full of information about where you're going, when you're going to be there, and who you're going to be there with; now Tempo AI plans to teach the app how to better understand what to do with all of that data.
"The calendar is the baseline that allows us to drive a significant population of people to use the application on a daily basis. This gives Tempo the opportunity to learn and become smarter," says Tempo AI founder Raj Singh. Soon it might be able to learn that you have a flight booked in a few weeks and prompt you to book a hotel room as well, Singh says, or understand that you book a lunch at the same place every week and remind you to do so if you happen to forget. The application -- and, if Tempo AI decides to introduce other products and services built on the same back-end -- has already gathered all kinds of data about your life, and Singh wants for it to eventually use that data to become a truly "smart" calendar.
Singh says that any products Tempo AI introduces will complement virtual assistants like Google Now or Siri. (Which, incidentally, was spun out of the same research lab, the Stanford Research Institute, as Tempo AI.) "We're sort of being categorized as an assistant, but I really think that's a misnomer," he says. "I think 'assistant' is a layer, and we're applying that to a calendar." It's not about trying to do everything, or even most things, you might want to accomplish with your smartphone through one pervasive assistant -- it's about making each and every application you use every day just a little bit smarter.
Tempo AI isn't the only company trying to build a smarter calendar, and it isn't even the only one to announce funding this month. Sunrise, a startup founded by two former Foursquare designers, recently announced that it had closed a $2.2 million funding round to continue building its own calendar app. "We deeply think that the calendar is an underestimated space that can make money on its own," Sunrise co-founder Pierre Valade told The Verge. Singh agrees, and says that Tempo AI intends to make money by offering a product to business customers.
Your calendar already knows almost everything there is to know about you. Where you are, where you're going; who you're meeting with, whose birthday it is; when you need to be somewhere, and when you need to leave. Companies like Tempo AI and Sunrise are simply trying to use that information to make managing your calendar -- and therefore, in many respects, your life -- a little bit easier.