A lot of money is currently flowing into AI development. One example is the Israeli startup AI21 Labs.
Founded by Amnon Shashua, Ori Goshen and Yoav Shoham in November 2017, the AI company has focused on developing large-scale language models that can understand and generate natural language.
Co-founder Shoham is a professor at Stanford University and specializes in artificial intelligence, game theory and multi-agent systems. Amnon Shashua is CEO at Mobileye, and Ori Goshen founded the investment firm CrowdX.
Jurassic-1 chases GPT-3
In August 2021, AI21 Labs unveiled Jurassic-1 Jumbo, a large AI language model with 178 billion parameters – three billion more than OpenAI’s GPT-3. Through AI21 Studio or an API, the startup gives customers access to its AI models for services such as chatbots, summaries, or ad copy.
Now AI21 Labs announces a new investment: Series B investors are injecting $64 million into the startup. This is a substantial sum, especially considering the current macroeconomic situation, where investor money is not as easy to come by as it was in the 2010s.
The money comes from venture capital firm Ahren Innovation Capital Fund, among others, and Mobileye CEO and co-founder Amnon Shashua is also involved. The startup’s total capital since inception is $118.5 million at a valuation of $664 million.
AI services as an investment opportunity
The new capital will go toward research and development for even larger and more sophisticated AI language models. AI21 Labs now has about 120 employees, and the startup hopes to hire another 50 professionals by the end of the year.
The fresh funds will go toward research and development of even larger and more sophisticated AI language models. AI21 Labs now has about 120 employees and hopes to hire another 50 by the end of the year.
Interestingly, Goshen blames the pandemic in part for his company’s upward trend. As more people work in home offices, the importance of the written word over the spoken word has also increased.
“[Our] proprietary large language models’ core capabilities allow for the ingestion of massive amounts of corporate data use to do … custom content creation, summarization, and classification,” Goshen says.
AI21’s investors are not the only ones who believe there is a big business model behind AI services. Microsoft, for example, has already joined OpenAI in 2019 with an expected investment of $1 billion and has secured an exclusive license to GPT-3. Microsoft uses text AI in its low-code development platform Power Apps for automatic code completion, among other things.
With DALL-E 2, OpenAI is currently heading for its first mega launch: The image AI is already attracting significantly more interest than GPT-3 and could become a lucrative business model that also fundamentally changes the job market for image and graphics professionals.