Own Telstra shares? Here's why the ASX 200 telco just backed this AI startup

Telstra Ventures is upping its exposure to AI.

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Like many tech-oriented stocks, Telstra Group Ltd (ASX: TLS) shares are likely to enjoy some significant benefits from the rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI).

So, it won't come as a surprise that the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) telco is looking to AI to improve efficiency and customer service, among other benefits.

Which brings us to Telstra Ventures, a venture capital firm that runs independently but collaborates closely with Telstra and its enterprise customers.

Here's what's happening.

Making AI more accessible

Telstra shares could get a lift down the road from United States-based data transformation startup Coalesce.

This comes as Coalesce announced that it has successfully raised US$50 million (AU$77 million) in Series B funding to "drive growth and platform innovation". The funding was backed in part by Telstra Ventures.

Commenting on why Telstra Ventures participated in the fundraising, Saad Siddiqui, general partner at Telstra Ventures said, "The industry is moving from labour-intensive data engineering to automated, enterprise-grade solutions."

He added, "Coalesce leads this shift, offering comprehensive extensibility for complex ETL/ELT [extract, load, transform] scenarios and an easy-to-use interface for a wider, less technical audience."

Coalesce CEO Armon Petrossian highlighted the potential of the technology to improve efficiency, which could help boost Telstra shares if the telco rolls out the tech in Australia.

"During a challenging VC market period, we've successfully raised capital by demonstrating explosive growth and an innovative product that significantly enhances the efficiency of data teams," Petrossian said.

Fanni Fan, principal at Industry Ventures which co-led the US$50 million funding round, added, "We've had a front-row seat to Coalesce's success, seeing them consistently outperform targets."

According to Fan:

Their customers regularly cite them as the most vital part of their data stack, and their mature partner ecosystem is impressive for their stage. Encouraged by this, we confidently led their Series B investment.

Coalesce launched in Australia and New Zealand in April 2023.

According to the company, it has "revolutionised data transformation within the ELT workflow on the Snowflake data cloud".

Snowflake Ventures also participated in the fundraising.

"Snowflake Ventures invests in our ecosystem partners to accelerate innovation," Harsha Kapre, director of Snowflake Ventures said.

"Coalesce is designed to complement the performance and scalability of Snowflake and is well positioned to harness the power of the data cloud," Kapre added, offering some insight into why Telstra wants a solid foot in the door here.

How have Telstra shares been tracking?

Telstra shares came under selling pressure in early February. Despite a modest uptick since late March, shares in the ASX 200 telco are down 4% in 2024.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Telstra Group. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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