Motion, a startup automating task planning with AI, today announced it has raised $13 million in a Series A round led by Signalfire, with participation from 468 Capital and leading angels, including OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman. Motion CEO Harry Qi said the new cash will be put towards product development and engineering as well as overall hiring.
Qi, who co-founded Motion with Omid Ruholfada and Ethan Yu in 2019, estimates that knowledge workers spend an average of 58% of their day coordinating work instead of actually completing it. He believes that if this constant coordination can be reduced, four-hour workdays can become as productive as the standard eight hours.
“Omid and I were high school friends, and Ethan and I were college friends,” Qi told Technology Flow via email. “We visited Y Combinator’s Winter 2020 batch with a different time management solution and pivoted to Motion today.”
Motion allows team members to plan what to do based on their respective projects and calendars as they exist. For each project or task, the user can specify how long the motion will take, its priority, deadline, and potential blockers, along with tasks to be done before a specific meeting, available work hours, and which meetings are optional. Motion adjusts each team member’s calendar and task priorities within the schedule.
When things don’t go according to plan, Motion automatically re-prioritizes everyone’s tasks and calendar. This contrasts with competitors like Asana and ClickUp, which emphasize lists and status updates as opposed to task automation.
“Ethan and I come from a high-frequency-trading background, and what we realized while building Motion was that there were a lot of parallels with scheduling optimization, which is our core competency,” Qi said. “Teams work in dynamic environments where they need to take in information in real time and prioritize accordingly; Motion’s algorithm takes thousands of inputs per person and calculates the optimal solution.
While many have tried to create an AI-powered task manager — see Gluru, Ahoy.ai, and Aerotime — few have caught on in the end. Undeterred, Qi claims that Motion has “thousands” of users and reached “seven-figure” annual recurring revenue last year.
Qi kept other financials close to the chest, but he insisted the motion would be “extremely” capital-efficient after experiencing a near-shutdown in 2020. The long-term goal is to expand Motion to manage company-wide goals and OKRs, he continued. .
“[Motion’s] Production started in the middle of a pandemic and remote-work exacerbated the pain point of constant manual coordination and communication to move projects forward, as our team experienced firsthand,” he said. “Now that most meetings are online, we have a tighter schedule and it’s hard to get uninterrupted time to actually work. Motion helps you stay productive so you don’t end up working endlessly.
Cyrus Mistry, motion investor and former product lead at Google Calendar, added in an emailed statement: “I’ve believed in this vision for over a decade since leading Google’s Calendar product in 2010: Everyone should have a smart assistant that can tell them what to do. The next best thing is to work. In fact, I gave a TED Talk on this exact topic. Motion has done a truly amazing job of allowing the world to experience this vision today.