B12, a startup that developed technology to automatically generate website designs using artificial intelligence (A.I.) — while still allowing people to add design flourishes and other elements — is announcing today a $12.4 million funding round. The service is available now in beta.
B12 blends a platform for different types of freelancers with a level of automation of certain types of processes, such as figuring out which people would be best suited for a new website.
The machines leave users with “a nice starting point,” and art directors, designers, and copy writers can improvise from there, B12 cofounder and CEO Nitesh Banta told VentureBeat in an interview.
The involvement of artificial intelligence (A.I.) in website generation isn’t new. Startups like TheGrid have teased this sort of capability in the past. The question is to what degree companies will start paying for it.
The new service costs $166 per month when billed yearly, or $199 per month. That’s definitely more than the cost of hosting a website through a cloud infrastructure provider like Amazon Web Services (AWS). But you get design suggestions that actually make sense, not random algorithmic creations, Banta said. If anything, B12 may appeal to smaller companies that would ordinarily hire people to custom build and maintain websites for them.
B12 depends on its open-source software, Orchestra, to perform certain mundane and time-consuming parts of project management — like identifying the right people for certain projects. In the on-boarding process, the startup depends on salespeople to connect with prospective customers. That part could be automated sometime in the future, but it isn’t yet — for now, the team likes to personally get to know people’s preferences, Banta said.
B12 started last year and is based in New York, with 11 employees. Breyer Capital, Founder Collective, General Catalyst Partners, and SV Angel participated in the funding round.