Building a Crime-Fighting Robot Automation Company from Concept to IPO with William Santana Li, CEO of Knightscope (a fireside chat)

The Rise of Robocop

We’re developing technology in the long run to be able to predict and prevent crime. Crime has one trillion dollar negative economic impact on the United States every year. And our long-term ambition is to literally be able to make the United States the safest country in the world, changing everything for everyone.” — William Santana Li (Chairman and CEO, Knightscope)

Knightscope is developing one of the most important technologies to come out of Silicon Valley that seeks to empower the public and private sectors to proactively build stronger, safer communities, ultimately saving money and lives. Knightscope designs, builds and deploys Autonomous Data Machines (ADMs) to monitor crimes in malls, corporate campuses, parking lots, airports and neighborhoods.

Their autonomous robots are deployed across the United States and are implemented in concert with both private and municipal security firms and professionals using a  MaaS (Machine as a Service) business model that relies on a simple but powerful formula:  Software + Hardware + Human Capability.

Since launching Knightscope in 2013, William Santana Li (Chairman and CEO) and his team have raised $40 million through several financing rounds from major corporations including an oversubscribed $25M Reg A+ “Mini-IPO”, a bunch of family offices, and some private investors.  Just as impressive as their unique funding and business model is the fact that Knightscope’s entire manufacturing process is done 100% in the United States at their headquarters in Silicon Valley — the industrial design, software engineering, tech stack, UX, client-facing dashboards, monitoring tools, modifications, etc. — an impressive accomplishment by any measure.

Make no mistake. It wasn’t easy — but true innovation rarely is!

JOIN US for an evening of cocktails and conversation with Knightscope Chairman and CEO, William Santana Li. Charlie Oliver, CEO of Tech 2025, and Bill will discuss his career and how he launched and grew an innovative, successful AI company and business model in five years.

The discussion will also delve into how Knightscope secured funding, Bill’s vision for the future of crime prevention and law enforcement, and how we as a society are redefining security with AI technologies and the challenges ahead (ethics, data collection and privacy, human-robot interaction, etc.). Charlie will then lead an interactive audience Q&A.

Afterwards, attendees will have a “meet and greet” with Knightscope robots at Knightscope’s New York showroom (next to the event venue).

William Santana Li

William Santana Li, Chairman & CEO, Knightscope

Bill is an American entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience and has a broad and deep range of expertise gained from several global assignments in the automotive sector and a number of startups. He is presently the Chairman and CEO of Knightscope, a developer of Autonomous Data Machines.

At Ford Motor Company, Bill held over 12 business and technical positions, focused on 4 continents, cutting across each functional area. These positions ranged from component, systems, and vehicle engineering with Visteon, Mazda, and Lincoln; to business & product strategy on the US youth market, India, and the emerging markets in Asia-Pacific and South America; as well as the financial turnaround of Ford of Europe. In addition, he was on the AMAZON team, which established an all-new modular plant in Brazil. Subsequently, he served as Director of Mergers & Acquisitions.

After internally securing $250 million, Bill founded and was COO of GreenLeaf, a Ford subsidiary that became the world’s 2nd largest automotive recycler. Under his leadership, GreenLeaf grew to a 600-employee operation with 20 locations and $150 million in sales.

 At the age of 28, Bill was the youngest senior executive at Ford worldwide.

Bill was then recruited by SOFTBANK Venture Capital to establish Model E Corporation as its President and CEO, a new car company where the “Subscribe and Drive” philosophy was first pioneered in California. He subsequently co-founded Build-To-Order Inc. (BTO) as its President and CEO, a new car company based on the direct distribution of build-to-order products. Bill also founded Carbon Motors, and as its Chairman and CEO, focused it on developing the world’s first purpose-built law enforcement patrol vehicle. He also built a world-class advisory board comprised of senior officials that had worked directly for 3 different U.S. Presidents.

Bill earned a BSEE from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Knightscope employees at their Silicon Valley headquarters. Photo Credit: Knightscope

Knightscope’s long-term vision is to predict and prevent crime utilizing autonomous robots, analytics and engagement. Crime has a $1+ trillion negative economic impact on the U.S. economy every year and Knightscope is on a mission to cut it in half. Founded in April 2013 in Silicon Valley, Knightscope is a leader in developing autonomous physical security solutions. The Knightscope “Hardware + Software + Humans” approach reduces costs for our clients, provides a 24/7 force multiplier effect as well as advanced anomaly detection capabilities. Our solution includes providing an autonomous physical presence, gathering data from the environment in real-time, and pushing anomalies to our user interface, the Knightscope Security Operations Center (KSOC).

Previous awards and honors include Popular Science Nine Most Important Security Innovations of 2016, CNBC Disrupt Honorable Mention and one of five startups on the path to becoming household names, ISC West New Product Showcase award, Plug and Play Winter EXPO award, and “Startup of the Year” from the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, Knightscope VP of Software Engineering, Mercedes Soria, recently received a “2017 ABIE Award for Leadership” and a 2017 “Silicon Valley Business Journal Woman of Influence Award.”


Knightscope executive management at their Silicon Valley headquarters (left to right): Stacy Dean Stephens (EVP and Chief Client Officer), Mercedes Soria (EVP and Chief Intelligence Officer), William Santana Li (Chairman and CEO), Marina Hardof (EVP and Chief Financial Officer), Aaron Lehnhardt (EVP and Chief Design Officer) Photo Credit: Knightscope

Event Agenda:

  • 6:00PM – 6:15PM: Sign in, networking, light bites and beverages
  • 6:15PM – 7:15PM: Fireside chat with Bill and Charlie
  • 7:15PM – 7:30PM: Audience Q&A
  • 7:30PM – 8:00PM: Robot Meet & Greet

Only confirmed, registered attendees will be admitted. Agenda is subject to change.

Start Time

6:00 pm

October 18, 2018

Finish Time

8:30 pm

October 18, 2018


Roger Smith Hotel, 501 Lexington Ave, NY, NY 10017