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A sample of Aesthetic's automation-infused design work. Image: Aesthetic

For his latest startup, entrepreneur and Pinterest veteran John Milinovich is betting automation can help even the highly human task of creative design.

Driving the news: Milinovich's new company, Aesthetic, aims to automate normally costly steps in building out companies' brand identities. It will announce today it has landed $3.1 million in seed funding to test out the premise, led by A.Capital with strategic investment from Y Combinator.

How it works: Humans would still be needed to come up the core brand elements. But Aesthetic, Milinovich said in an interview, would then tap AI to take those basic pieces and turn them into documents and web templates.

  • Aesthetic says it can deliver a basic brand identity and guidelines in four business days for $3,000 — well below what a typical design firm would charge, and in far less time.
  • Milinovich said he hopes that will make good design accessible to even small startups.
  • In addition to the software firm, Aesthetic's structure includes a separate, independent design outfit.

Background: Milinovich started the company with Andrew Look and Nathanael Smith, his fellow co-founders from an earlier company, "deep linking" developer URX. Pinterest acquired URX in 2016.

Yes, but: Other startups have tried and failed to automate skilled white-collar work.

  • Atrium, the legal startup launched by Twitch co-founder Justin Kan, shut down in March after failing to prove itself more efficient than the established way of doing business.

The other side: Milinovich said that his company is trying to take things more slowly and not run up costs too soon. And he acknowledges the challenges: "Anytime you use the word automation in the same sentence as creativity and design, you are met with a lot of skepticism."

Go deeper: Coronavirus speeds the way for robots in the workplace

Go deeper

National Guard chief says it took 3 hours for Pentagon to grant Jan. 6 request

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, will testify Wednesday that it took three hours and 19 minutes for Pentagon leadership to approve a request for National Guard assistance during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, according to his prepared remarks.

Why it matters: The timeline over when National Guard requests were made and granted has been a key point of contention in congressional hearings examining the security failures surrounding the Capitol riots.

37 mins ago - World

International Criminal Court opens Israel-Palestine war crimes probe

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu has strongly objected to the investigation. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday announced her intention to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories since 2014.

Why it matters: The investigation is expected to consider possible war crimes by Israel and Hamas during the 2014 war in Gaza, as well as the construction of West Bank settlements by Israel. It could sharply increase tensions between Israel, which fiercely opposes the probe, and Palestinian leaders, who requested it.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Exxon says it's well-positioned amid investor pressure

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

ExxonMobil said Wednesday that its oil-and-gas development plans will create good returns even at modest oil prices as the company looks to win back investor confidence after several rocky years.

Driving the news: The company, just ahead of an investor presentation this morning, said its investments are designed to generate returns of over 30% and touted its spending reductions.

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