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AI startup Cohere is most certainly no longer flying under the radar. The Toronto-based company just announced $270 million in a series C round of funding led by Inovia with participation from Nvidia, Oracle, Salesforce Ventures and others — valuing the company at over $2 billion.
“We are at the beginning of a new era driven by accelerated computing and generative AI,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, in a statement. “The team at Cohere has made foundational contributions to generative AI. Their service will help enterprises around the world harness these capabilities to automate and accelerate.”
As VentureBeat reported in February, Aidan Gomez, cofounder and CEO of Cohere AI, had admitted that the company, which offers developers and businesses access to natural language processing (NLP) powered by large language models (LLMs), is “crazy under the radar.” But given the quality of the company’s foundation models, which many say are competitive with the best from Google, OpenAI and others, he said that should not be the case.
Cohere, founded in 2019 by Gomez, Ivan Zhang and Nick Frosst, is just one company enjoying the investment frenzy into generative AI since Microsoft invested a fresh $10 billion into OpenAI in January. Just a couple of weeks ago, for example, Anthropic, a San Francisco-based AI startup and another rival to OpenAI, announced that it has raised $450 million in series C funding.
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And back in October 2022, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cohere had reportedly been in talks with both Google and Nvidia about a possible investment.
Cohere emphasized in a press release that its enterprise AI suite is cloud-agnostic and built to be deployed inside a customer’s existing cloud environment or virtual private cloud (VPC), or on-site.
Back in 2017, Gomez and a group of fellow Google Brain colleagues, who had co-authored the original Transformer paper “Attention Is All You Need,” were frustrated by the huge adoption of transformers within Google, while there was not a lot of adoption outside of it.
As a result, several Transformer co-authors famously decided to leave Google and found their own startups (for example, Noam Shazeer founded Character AI, and Niki Parmar and Ashish Vaswani founded Adept AI) — including Gomez.
“We just decided we needed to do our own thing,” Gomez told VentureBeat. “We felt there were some fundamental barriers keeping enterprises and young developers and startup founders from [adopting NLP] and there’s got to be a way to bring those barriers down.”
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