Turing Wants to Unleash Human Potential through AI-Powered Tech Services

Episode 39 Turing Wants to Unleash Human Potential through AI-Powered Tech Services (1)

In 2020, when the Pandemic mandated the move to remote work, Turing raised $32million in Series B funding to define a future where companies could push a button to spin up their engineering team instantly. In 2021, Fast Company listed Turing as one of the most innovative workplace companies. In great company with the likes of Asana, Atlassian, Gitlab, Slack, and Zoom, Turing defines itself as an international hiring platform that brings together remote software developers and leverages their unique AI vetting process to match the right teams with projects.

I met with Jonathan Siddharth, founder and CEO of Turing, to dive into his AI-powered tech services platform and his vision to unleash the world’s untapped human potential.

Transcript

Hessie Jones

Hi everyone, I’m Hessie Jones and welcome to Tech Uncensored. We are here on Collision Day 2 and I’m happy today to speak with Turing, founder Jonathan Siddharth. Thank you, Jonathan, for being with me today. Turing Cloud is an AI power tech services company. So, before we get started, I want you to tell me all about your company.

 

Jonathan Siddharth

Thank you, Hessie. The company is turing and turing.com is where you can find us. Turing has this mission of using AI to unleash the world’s untapped human potential. We are doing that by building the world’s first AI powered tech services company. We believe AI transformation is the new digital transformation. Every company is going to have to be an AI company and I’m sure in Collision as you’re meeting C-Suite execs from every Fortune 500 company, you’re hearing the same where every company now needs an AI strategy. Every product is now an AI product. Every role is being transformed by AI. At Turing, we started the company because traditional tech services firms were simply not built for this. They do manual sourcing, vetting of talent, they do manual matching, and they even do what I would call manual coding. Turing is tech services reimagined from the ground up as an AI company. So, we asked ourselves, what would an AI powered Accenture look like? And we’re doing that in three unique ways. The 1st is using AI to automatically source, vet and match the right talent to the right opportunity. The second is what we call Turing GPT, where we’re using AI to accelerate the productivity of a software engineering team and we combined that with our team of AI transformation experts who help companies in their transformation journey. So, Turing works with clients like Disney, Johnson and Johnson and Rivian and over 1000 companies that we have worked with so far. They work with Turing in three unique ways. The 1st is staff augmentation, where they come to Turing and take vetted engineering talent from us. The second is in engineering services, so if a company has an AI project or an AI initiative that they want to build, we give them a full form team that’s then built for time. And we’ve also recently launched our AI advisory services where we help companies think through their AI strategy and road map. And all of this is built on top of our Turing Talent cloud, which is a talent cloud of 2,000,000 developers. Turing is the world’s largest developer focused talent cloud and we’re growing by about 80,000 developers. So, with this on top of this talent cloud, we are then using AI to find the right talent, vet the right talent and match them with the companies.

Hessie Jones

So, before we get into some of the nitty gritty about your solution and your platform, tell us about your journey to Turing.  What was your background and what led you to doing what you’re doing today?

 

Jonathan Siddharth

I grew up in Chennai, India and I was always fascinated by new. So, I published my first research paper in AI, like when I was in my sophomore year, which is about using neural networks for self-driving cars, and this was like in 2002 or so. After finishing college, I was looking to see where I could do research in AI and Stanford seemed like the place to do it. Stanford was ahead in Autonomous Driving. So, I came to Stanford originally to do my PhD and at Stanford I met my co-founder Vijay and we both got bitten by the startup bug and we started company #1, which was an AI powered content recommendation company. So that was the first company that I started out of grad school and for that company, the hardest thing that we found was recruiting great engineering talent and we are in the heart of Silicon Valley, in Palo Alto. When you’re building a tech company in Palo Alto and you must know this from your time at Yahoo, it’s just so hard to find great engineers because everybody’s fighting for the same limited talent pool as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook. They’re all fishing in the same limited pool. One of the best things that we did in my first company was the decision to look beyond Silicon Valley for Silicon Valley caliber talent and we did it out of necessity. This was 2012, right? Like the remote work was not a thing, but we looked for these. We were fortunate to work with some wonderful engineers from Poland, Canada, India, China and other parts of the world. And that was really the key to making the company successful. So, my first startup succeeded because of remote work in distributed teams. So, after that company had a successful acquisition, I took some time off and I was figuring out what I wanted to do next, and it became clear that this problem that we had solved for ourselves in my first startup was really like such a big unsolved opportunity. I teamed up with my Co-founder again and we started Turing in 2018 with the goal of building this AI powered tech services company where both Fortune 500 companies as well as startups could push a button to spin up their engineering team instantly. With AI being used for automatically vetting engineering talent, matching them, and now we are thinking about ways to use AI to increase the productivity of a software engineering team. I just feel fortunate that Turing benefited from 2 tailwinds. The first was the tailwinds around remote work and now it’s the tailwinds around AI.

 

Hessie Jones

You’re not a recruiting company. All these engineers or contractors to Turing. So, from your perspective, is there less of a demand to outright hire an engineer as opposed to actually just placing them for a specific project or specific work term?

 

Jonathan Siddharth

So, my view is that the best way to build a tech company today is for 20 to 40% of your engineering headcount to be powered by long-term full-time contractors like a from a platform like Turing. I wouldn’t say you should do that for 100% of your engineering headcount, but 20 to 40% and there are some studies that say that it should maybe even be 50%. The benefit of this is speed and flexibility. For example, imagine you were building an AI company like a copilot for journalists say. Let’s say you wanted to build like an iPhone app and Android app and a web app. Now, the old way of doing that would be maybe you have a budget for one engineer. It might be to find one amazing Unicorn engineer and have that engineer build all three in sequence, right? But you don’t have to do that anymore. You could come to Turing and say, hey, Turing, I’m going to need to launch this on iOS, Android and the web. So, you’ll take three engineers from Turing’s talent cloud. They’re building all three in parallel, right? And once they are launched very quickly, let’s say in three months, you’ve launched it all on all three. You decide that the iOS app is where you have product market fit. Maybe that works really well. You could use Turing to double down on iOS. Maybe you hire another swift engineer like another back-end engineer, and you can wind down Android and web. Right, because you don’t want to invest it, maybe you put it. In maintenance mode. Building on top of the talent cloud gives you that flexibility to scale up your engineering team, scale it up, scale it down as easily as scaling up servers on AWS.

 

Hessie Jones

OK, so you’re basically saying just optimize your dollars for engineering, which is usually the most expensive part of the headcount for a lot of companies. Let’s talk about where you are today. I want to talk about the significant raise that you got recently.  Congratulations and I would like to know more about it. Also, what is the use of funds for that raise and what do you plan on doing with that in the next two to five years?

 

Jonathan Siddharth

Thank you, Hessie. Regarding the raise, Turing is the fastest growing tech services company in the world. We have grown tremendously quickly and so we’ve partnered with some wonderful investors. Our most recent round was raised at a 4 billion valuation cap on a SAFE. Prior to that, we raised our last round to a 1.1 billion post. The investors are Westbridge, which was formerly Sequoia India, which is a $7 billion fund. They deeply understand tech services. They were investors in Cognizant, global logic, etcetera and foundation capital, one of the top AI funds in Silicon Valley, there were investors in Uber, Netflix, Solana, Jasper, and others and Green Sprint Associates, which is an investor in almost every top Silicon Valley venture fund that you can imagine. They like to invest in the best companies of their venture funds. We’ve raised in total about 144,000,000. The funds are going to be primarily used for growth. So, we’re fortunate in that Turing is very efficient and we are fortunate to be in a position where if we wanted to, we wouldn’t have to raise another round after this. We’ll kind of decide what we want to do. But these are going to be we’re going to invest the funds to further accelerate our R&D in improving the accuracy of our AI powered vetting and matching engine. We are also starting to build an AI powered self-serve system where somebody could come and build their engineering team by talking to Turing, in terms of what they’re trying to build. We’re super excited about that and AI accelerated delivery, so we are speeding up the productivity of every software engineer, product manager, data scientist who’s part of the Turing team. So, a Turing team is like this team that’s accelerated by an AI powered exoskeleton. And beyond that, it’s sales and marketing like we are stepping on the gas with growth, and we are building this AI powered Accenture, but we’re still early in our journey like Accenture has been around for decades. It’s great to be in a big and growing market.

 

Hessie Jones

OK, so if I was an engineer, how would I access your services?

 

Jonathan Siddharth

If you’re an engineer anywhere in the world, you should go to touring.com and start getting vetted. Turing has automated vetting for every role you can imagine, like front end, back end, mobile AI, data science, DevOps, etc. Every tech stack you can imagine. For example, if it’s a back-end developer, you could specialize in Python, Django, node, etc. and every senior level like an individual contributor, tech lead, tech lead manager, etc. Our vetting is very efficient, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time. It’s also fun to go through Turing’s vetting and figure out what you’re good at and what could be good growth opportunities for you. Once you’re vetted, we’d match you with some of our clients that include Disney, Johnson and Johnson, Coinbase, Rivian and all these amazing Silicon Valley product companies. If you’re an engineer, Turing is the best place in the world for you to grow your career, and we want to use our AI to help you maximize your compensation and your opportunities.  Twenty years ago, to really grow as an engineer, you had to be in Silicon Valley. Between San Francisco to San Jose, right? And now we live in this wonderful world, powered by AI and remote work, where it doesn’t matter what zip code you’re born in or where you grow up, it’s possible to work in Silicon Valley without needing to live in Silicon Valley.  I think that’s going to be wonderful for engineers all over the world, and Turing is excited to help these engineers realize their potential and what motivates us is to use AI to amplify human productivity.

 

Hessie Jones

As technology evolves and as you know, generative AI is here and when this transforms, there’s going to be new languages that may come up, there could be. And as you know, as an engineer, people have to keep learning all the time. So, the future of work is going to be dependent on the technologies that we create today. What is your view on the role of the engineer in the next 5 to 10 years?

 

Jonathan Siddharth

Yeah, I think there was. There’s never been a better time to be a software engineer or get into computer. I think computer science and AI specifically should be taught at the middle school level like as you’re learning English mathematics and basic computer science. I think AI should also be taught at that time. I think the ROI to be a software engineer is now 10X of what it used to be. Because every software engineer is going to be 10X more productive. This means that we’re going to see an entrepreneurial explosion in the coming years. It used to be like 10 years ago that to build a startup, maybe you needed a really strong, experienced engineer along with some other business folks. Now it’s possible. Like let’s say there is a really talented journalist, right? She could start her AI company standing on the shoulders of some of these AI assisted tools. I think junior engineers will grow a lot faster. Our head of engineering feels that it’s possible now for a junior engineer to operate at the level of a mid-level engineer and a mid-level engineer to operate at the level of a senior engineer. AI is just going to amplify the productivity of everyone, and the key to all of this is everyone learning AI. To at least, at least at a basic level, and every job is now going to be an AI job. The exciting thing about all of this is I think the tools are just getting better and better. At Turing, we have already seen a productivity boost of like about 30%. Using some of these AI accelerated tools. I’m just excited for where all this leads.

 

Hessie Jones

Thank you so much and I have a feeling that you might end up having another function within your business to actually start training your engineers to on all these new tools that are coming up. So thank you so much for joining me.

 

Jonathan Siddharth

Today and do check out turing.com if you’re a developer or a company that wants to hire.

 

Hessie Jones

OK, thank you. And we’ll be right back.

Host Information
Hessie Jones

Hessie Jones is an Author, Strategist, Investor and Data Privacy Practitioner, advocating for human-centred AI, education and the ethical distribution of AI in this era of transformation. 

She currently serves as the Innovations Manager at Altitude Accelerator. She provides the necessary support for Altitude Accelerator’s programs including Incubator and Investor Readiness. She will be the liaison among key stakeholders to provide operational support and ultimately drive founder success. 

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