Clarifai, a startup providing an application programming interface (API) that offers a type of artificial intelligence (A.I.) known as “deep learning,” is announcing a $30 million round of funding today.
“The money is really to grow the team,” Clarifai founder and chief executive Matthew Zeiler told VentureBeat in an email. “We have a really exciting roadmap that continues to position us as the independent A.I. company out there, and the only bottleneck on executing on it is the number of people in the company. We plan to grow all functions, from research to engineering to developer evangelists to sales and marketing.”
Beyond its core application programming interface (API) for image and video recognition, Clarifai has launched the Forevery photo storage app for iOS and recently introduced Custom Training and Visual Search services.
General-purpose deep learning — which typically entails training artificial neural networks on heaps of data, such as images, and then getting them to make inferences about new data — is not the easiest business to be in, even as some companies look to follow the likes of Facebook and Google and use the technique to improve their applications. MetaMind got acquired by Salesforce, AlchemyAPI was bought by IBM, and Nervana was bought by Intel. Layoffs have hit Ersatz Labs and H2O.
Competitor Skymind recently announced a $3 million seed round. But Clarifai’s business model is different, as it doesn’t plan to make its software available for companies to run in on-premises data centers, Zeiler wrote.
Menlo Ventures led the new funding round. Lux Capital, Osage University Partners, Qualcomm, and Union Square Ventures also participated.
New York-based Clarifai started in 2013 and is based in New York. The startup employs 33 people. To date, Clarifai has raised $41.25 million, including the $10 million round from last year. Zeiler declined to state how many customers it has but said it’s about 10 times more than there were a year ago. Customers include 500px, BuzzFeed, Disqus, and Unilever.