Prasad Akella

Prasad Akella

Founder and CEO, Drishti

Dr. Prasad Akella, founder and CEO of Drishti, has the distinction of creating two massive market categories that use technology to extend the limits on human capabilities.

First, in the 1990s, he led the General Motors team that built the world's first collaborative robots ("cobots," projected to be $12 billion market by 2025), which married mechanical strength, haptic interfaces and human cognition. Then, in the early 2000s, as cofounder of the social networking pioneer Spoke, Dr. Akella envisioned and helped build the first massive social graph to help humans build more effective relationships -- a category that is now worth trillions.

Today, Dr. Akella is again focused on applying frontier technology to augment humans and create a new market category. This time he's asking, "What happens if you use AI's cognitive capacity to augment the agility and creativity of a human worker?"

His answer is Drishti, the world's first action cognition company, which applies deep learning and computer vision to measure and increase the value that humans add in work settings. As founder and CEO, Dr. Akella is responsible for the day-to-day management and execution of the company's vision to revolutionize work, starting with manufacturing.

In addition to General Motors and Spoke, Dr. Akella has served in executive roles for enterprises and startups that include Thomson Reuters, Optessa, Intermedia and SAP. His work has won him broad recognition, having been funded by the National Science Foundation three times previously. He has also been recognized with General Motors' highest technical award, the "Boss" Kettering Award; IEEE Robotics & Automation Society's Anton Philips Award; and an ASME Award.

Dr. Akella has been awarded two patents, been published in a number of technical journals and served on the Editorial Board of Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing. He holds a PhD in robotics from Stanford University where he was an Edgar Meakin Fellow; an MBA from the University of Michigan's Ross Business School where he graduated with highest honors and Beta Gamma Sigma; and a BS from the Indian Institute of Technology where he was awarded the HAL Silver medal.

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