AI start-up AI21 Labs valued at $1.4bn after fresh funding

31 Aug 2023

AI21 Labs co-founder Amnon Shashua. Image: Ryan Lash/TED (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Backed by the likes of Google and Nvidia, Tel Aviv-based AI21 Labs raised $155m in a Series C round to meet growing demand for AI.

Israeli start-up AI21 Labs has raised $155m to invest in its text-based generative AI services for enterprises.

The Series C funding round was backed by Google and Nvidia and brings the company’s total capital raised to $283m with a valuation of $1.4bn.

While AI21 Labs has the backing of the aforementioned tech giants, funding for the latest round was led by Walden Catalyst, Pitango, SCB10X, b2venture, Samsung Next and co-founder Amnon Shashua, who previously founded Intel’s self-driving car unit Mobileye.

Shashua founded AI21 Labs in 2017 along with fellow Israeli tech entrepreneurs Yoav Shoham and Ori Goshen as one of the first start-ups brining generative AI to the masses.

Headquartered in Tel Aviv, AI21 Labs builds advanced large language models (LLM) and natural language processing (NLP) technologies to meet growing demand for generative AI applications from enterprise consumers including Fortune 100 companies such as Amazon.

Its proprietary Jurassic-2 foundation model powers AI21 Studio, the company’s flagship developer platform for building custom text-based business applications. It also develops Wordtune, a multilingual reading and writing assistant much like Grammarly.

“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,” said Shashua, who is also the company’s chair.

“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.”

Shoham and Goshen, who lead AI21 Labs as co-CEOs, said that the company’s technology provides the “robustness, predictability and explainability required” by enterprises looking to make the most out of AI.

“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,” added Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang, whose company has seen a surge in AI-driven sales.

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Co-founder and chair of AI21 Labs Amnon Shashua. Image: Ryan Lash/TED (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic