Adam Cheyer - Co-Founder of Siri, Viv Labs, and #67


Adam Cheyer is an inventor, entrepreneur, engineering executive, and a pioneer in AI and computer human interfaces. Adam has been a co-founder or founding member of four successful startups, including:

  1. Siri (sold to Apple, where he led server-side engineering and AI for the Siri assistant).
  2. (the world’s largest petition platform),
  3. Viv Labs (sold to Samsung, where as VP R&D, Adam leads product engineering and developer relations for Samsung’s voice assistant),
  4. Sentient (massively distributed machine learning).

Previously, Adam was VP Engineering at Verticalnet (enterprise software) and Dejima (mobile software). Adam also spent more than a decade at SRI International, where his most recent role was as Chief Architect of CALO/PAL, the US government’s largest funded AI project.

Adam has authored more than 60 publications and 37 patents. He graduated with highest honors from Brandeis University and received the “Outstanding Masters Student” award from UCLA’s School of Engineering.

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Episode Summary

“I started 3 companies at the same time. Siri was my day job. I started a company called Sentient, that was my night job. And was my side side project.”

“After 2 years, Apple saw Siri. Steve Jobs called our office, unannounced, after we launched a free app in the app store.”

“Timing is super important. I was doing Siri - like systems since 1993. Literally exactly half my life. If I tried to launch it as a company any sooner or later, it would not have had the success that it did.”

“I thought that social networking would take off. And that led directly to our work at”

—Adam Cheyer

Key Milestones

  1. What was it like studying computer science in the early 1980’s?
  2. Adam was told he couldn’t join his school’s computer club. This made him him angry and curious.
  3. How does Adam predict which technologies will be important in the future? He created a model called trends and triggers that he uses to organize his own thinking.
  4. Siri was partially created to give other phone manufacturers a shot at taking down Apple. How did Apple end up acquiring Siri? What was it like receiving a phone call from Steve Jobs unannounced?
  5. is a massively influential petition platform. Yet, Adam views it as a side project. Why is this?

Additional Resources

Bixby Developers is a conversational assistant marketplace. Its part of Samsung. Learn more about it -

Listen to Adam’s talk at Berkeley about setting goals and verbally affirming them -

Listen to Adam’s talk about AI at Scale 2017 -