Davos Q&A: Rish Mitra, founder of UK 'unicorn' Blippar

Ambarish (Rish) Mitra is the chief executive officer and co-founder of augmented reality software company Blippar, which has been described as one of Europe’s few “unicorns” – technology startups that achieve billion dollar valuations. He was named the UK’s top entrepreneur in 2016.

Blippar CEO Ambarish Mitra in London
Blippar CEO Ambarish Mitra speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt London 2015. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Indian-born and educated, Mitra is now based in London. (Corrected to remove reference to moment without much money)  Blippar, which overlays virtual information over real world objects and now specializes in image recognition, was inspired by his use of Queen Elizabeth’s face on a twenty-pound note as a sort of live hologram. The banknote was sitting on a bar in a pub at the time.

He’s one of the youngish entrepreneurs drawn into the Davos Set – the business, political, and cultural leaders who attend the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

WikiTribune: Are you more, less, or equivalently optimistic as you were this time last year?

Mitra: “I am actually feeling more optimistic … because at this time last year Trump was just in power, Brexit had happened, and there was a lot of uncertainty and speculation was at an all time high. Enough has happened in the last 12 months – not exactly in a progressive way – but unity in the world in thinking and (a) bigger intelligentsia meeting together and discussing topics (like at Davos). Things get really bad before they get better and we are just going through that phase.”

WikiTribune: What or who might be the biggest threat to the kinds of global ideas that underlie Davos?

Mitra: “I think the greatest threat is when politicians are independent (breaking from) their country and constitutions. The possibilities of things like nuclear war and these things can be just driven with ego … that’s the single greatest risk, which we do not address enough I think. When we talk about AI (Artificial Intelligence) that’s not really as important. The risk of nuclear is way greater than AI.”

WikiTribune: What’s your favorite news media. Where do you go first?

Mitra: “BBC. News these days comes to you. I am a big user of Twitter … but I would say I end up reading a lot of BBC and New York Times. Everything on the web.”


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        This Q&A has been edited for clarity and to remove elements which were off the record but is very close to the full three minutes or so we recorded.


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