Credit: Roei Shor Photography/A21 Labs
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Tel Aviv, Israel-based large language model (LLM) leader AI21 Labs confirmed with VentureBeat that it has has closed $155 million in series C funding to accelerate the growth of its text-based generative AI services for enterprises. The company is now valued at $1.4 billion.
Investors in the round include Walden Catalyst, Pitango, SCB10X, b2venture, Samsung Next and Amnon Shashua with participation from Google and Nvidia.
AI21 is often cited as a rival to OpenAI
Founded in 2017 by AI pioneers and technology veterans Amnon Shasuha, Yoav Shoham and Ori Goshen, AI21 Labs may have been one of the first to bring gen AI to the masses, but it has also spent the past year chasing LLM rivals like OpenAI to commercial applications.
After a $64 million series B round last year, Shoham, an emeritus professor of AI at Stanford University, told VentureBeat that he recognized that the funding landscape was tightening and more LLMs and multimodal models were being launched every day — from OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 and Google’s Imagen to today’s BLOOM announcement from Hugging Face.
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He said the company was “very aware of the environment and not complacent in any way.”
AI21’s proprietary Jurassic-2 foundation models are considered some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated LLMs. Jurassic-2 powers AI21 Studio, a developer platform for building custom text-based business applications off of AI21’s language models; and Wordtune, a multilingual reading and writing AI assistant for professionals and consumers.
AI21 develops and owns foundation models that serve as platform
AI21 chairman Shashua said in a press release: “AI21 Labs is a pure play in AI as it develops and owns foundation models which are served as a platform to developers and enterprises, while developing derivatives such as Wordtune directly to end users. The current round fuels the growth of the company to reach its goal of developing the next level of AI with the capabilities of reasoning across many domains. We believe that the impact of AI21 Labs growth plans would be of a global scale and quite soon.”
Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, also shouted out AI21’s work in the press release: “Generative AI is driving a new era of computing across every industry,” he said. “The innovative work by the AI21 Labs team will help enterprises accelerate productivity and efficiency with generative AI-based systems that are accurate, trustworthy and reliable.”
AI21 has recently collaborated with customers in diverse sectors, including Carrefour, Clarivate, eBay, Guesty, Monday.com and Ubisoft. The company was also named on the first ever CB Insights GenAI 50.
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