Startup Essential AI has raised $56.5 million in funding — including funds from tech heavyweights AMD, Google, and Nvidia — showcasing the increasing investment in companies rushing to meet demand for generative AI products designed to improve business processes.
The company, founded this year, had previously raised $8.3 million in seed capital, but has stayed in stealth mode up to now, announcing today its fresh funding round and its goals. Details on what precisely Essential plans to do with the money are still sparse, but in a news release, the company said it is developing full-stack AI products designed to increase productivity by automating time-consuming and monotonous workflows.
“With human feedback and technical breakthroughs, Essential AI’s LLMs will empower users to solve progressively harder tasks and unlock critical skills, scaling the impact of organizations on society,” the company said.
The founders of Essential have impressive backgrounds. Ashish Vaswani and Niki Parmar were formerly researchers at Google Brain, where they helped develop the company’s Transfomer technoogy, based on a neural network architecture specifically designed for natural language processing (NLP) tasks.
Vaswani and Parmar were also recently involved in another AI startup, Adept, which recently raised $350 million in new capital. Adept claimed in a news release that it “is working to build an AI teammate, trained to use every software tool and API — for every knowledge worker.”
Vaswani and Parmar are apparently no longer with Adept as they both on LinkedIn list their tenure with Adept as ending in November 2022. Attempts to reach the two entrepreneurs for comment were not immediately successful.
Adept’s flagship foundation model, ACT-1, “is differentiated from existing generative AI tools because it is able to interpret high-level, natural language user requests on software tools, and perform tasks for them directly,” the release said. “As such, Adept is building products that work hand-in-hand with the user, interfacing with the same tools they use. This ability fosters a collaborative, empowering, and user-centered experience and propels the generative AI frontier forward.”
Firms such as Adept and Essential are rapidly introducing AI products to the market, driven by the belief that the technology will reduce costs by automating tasks currently performed by humans, said Nico Dekens, the Director of Intelligence Collection and Innovation at ShadowDragon, a threat monitoring and detection company.
“What also makes them rush is FOMO,” said Dekens, who has written about AI-human interaction. “Fear of Missing Out on advantages that competitors are or have already implemented. Also, customers are starting to ‘demand’ AI features more and more for managed services and solutions.”
Igor Jablokov, the CEO of Pryon — an enterprise search company that leverages generative AI — said that companies are looking to foundation AI models as a “shortcut to their evolution.” He added that “just like cloud computing simplified things where they didn’t require the expertise of racking and stacking servers. Ultimately, they think the value will be retained by entities with their own R&D, to maintain independence and safeguard their COGS, and to control their accuracy, scale, security, and speed.”
Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.
This story originally Appeared on Computerworld