Earlier this week, LA-based neurotech start-up Kernel raised $53 Million from Series C funding led by General Catalyst, with companies such as Khosla Ventures, Eldridge, Mata Ray Venture, and Tiny Blue Dot participating. This is the first external money received by Kernel, even though it’s Series C funding because CEO Bryan Johnson had already invested $54 Million over the last two rounds.
Kernel is neuroscience as a service-based company, aiming to tap into brain activity by using non-invasive technology which they have categorized into two separate products, namely Flux and Flow.
- Flux aims to detect magnetic fields created by the collective activity of neurons
- Flow measures blood through the brain
A Vision for the Future
Kernel envisions creating an accessible neuroscience-based service to record brain activities without using invasive and sometimes costly technologies, and sometimes even include brain surgery. The ultimate aim is to provide clients with brain scanning technologies, even remotely. As Quentin Clark of General Catalyst explains, “The vision fuelling Kernel is one of the most audacious imaginable, but that ambition has a passionate and committed founder and team and pragmatic engineering work to back it up. Kernel’s engineering accomplishments have the potential to enable more neuroscience progress in the next few years than has been accomplished in the last few decades.”
Watch: Bryan Johnson on Brain-Interface Technology
The long-term aim of Johnson is to create a company that can develop a much deeper understanding of the field of Neuroscience. In a press statement released recently, Johnson wrote, “If we can quantify thoughts and emotions, conscious and subconscious, a new era of understanding, wellness, and human improvement will emerge.”
What Lays Ahead
According to CEO Bryan Johnson, the new capital acquired by the company will be used for further technological as well as sales, marketing, and customer success. In May, the company also made available the Naas platform, which has enabled the general population to have access to brain imaging.
In addition, Kernel said they used the initial $54 Million to discover if there was something in line with their vision that could be done on the ground. Now that they have seen people using their tools for different purposes, like image recognition, Kernel is looking to scale the technology to make it more accessible.
Reflecting on the recent developments, Johnson was enthusiastic. “The investment from General Catalyst and Khosla signals that we are ready. Kernel will allow for systematic quantification of the thing that makes us, ‘us,’ which is the brain. It’s the last thing that we haven’t been able to measure, and it’s the next major platform to emerge in the world.”
With previous experience overseeing a successful start-up, Braintree, which was sold to eBay for $800 million, Johnson is set to be successful with another venture. With the backing of investment companies like General Catalyst and Khosla Ventures, and with Mr. Quentin Clark on board, Kernel looks all set to bring about an innovation in neuroscience technology akin to one out of science-fiction.
Though it is indeed true that the workings of our brain are still a big mystery in terms of how they translate to our cognition, the platform constructed by Kernel could potentially bring more people to study the operations of the brain, and perhaps provide a clearer explanation of areas not yet understood.