Merge's Shensi Ding on powering the next generation of AI SaaS companies | S1E4

Spotlight On

Nov 7 2023 • 29 mins

Shensi Ding and Gil Feig met during a computer science class in college and quickly formed a close friendship. Years later, they would reconnect and launch Merge. In this episode of Spotlight On: AI, Shensi reflects on their founding story and how Merge has evolved from streamlining product integrations to serving the quickly growing market of AI companies. Today, Merge is powering the next generation of AI SaaS companies. The journey began in 2015 after Shensi and Gil graduated from Columbia University. They pursued different roles, only to discover a shared professional challenge: building and maintaining product integrations. In 2020, they made the bold decision to leave their jobs and launch Merge. For the first time, companies using Merge could add customer-facing integrations to their product with a single API, saving developers countless hours. Their goal for Merge was to become the go-to integration platform for all companies. Even so, they could never have predicted the staggering demand from the AI ecosystem. Seemingly overnight, Merge's platform experienced an unprecedented surge in users, as AI startups blossomed and integrations were needed to provide data to power language models like ChatGPT became critical. Shensi and her team navigated the overwhelming demand, and in recent months have even launched their own AI products, like Blueprint. “We wanted to make sure if we were investing resources into AI products on an already very packed roadmap that it was going to be worth it. You can’t build it just because everyone else is if it is not the right thing for your company” - Shensi Ding Conversation highlights: 00:00 - Intro 00:10 - Merge's founding story and Accel’s investment 04: 10 - Advice for cultivating a strong early company culture 11:55 - The decision-making process behind launching their first AI product and its impact 17:21 - Advice for building a resilient business, how to incorporate AI and when not to 21:00 - How to distinguish genuine threats from AI and the importance of human involvement Host: Ben Fletcher, Partner at Accel Featuring: Shensi Ding, CEO and Co-Founder of Merge Learn more: