Startup AI21 Labs Ltd., which provides cloud-based large language models for developers, today divulged that it has raised $53 million in new funding.
The capital was provided as an extension to a Series C investment the company originally announced in August. The new raise was led by the venture capital arms of Intel Corp. and Comcast Corp. at a $1.4 billion valuation. Their investment brings AI21’s total outside funding to $336 million.
Tel Aviv-based AI21 was founded in 2017 by co-Chief Executive Officers Ori Goshen and Yoav Shoham. The company’s third co-founder is Amnon Shashua, the CEO of vehicle chipmaker Mobileye Global Inc. AI21 launched its first product, an artificial intelligence writing assistant called Wordtune, in 2020 and later expanded its focus to offering large language models.
The company provides its language models through a cloud-based platform called AI21 Studio. The platform makes the models accessible via application programming interfaces that allow developers to integrate them into their software. According to AI21, its APIs power thousands of production applications for customers.
The AI21 Studio provides access to three general-purpose large language models collectively known as the Jurassic-2 series. They can generate text, rewrite existing prose, summarize documents and perform other tasks. AI21 claims Jurassic-2 is among the top performers in Stanford University’s HELM benchmark, which evaluates the reliability of language models.
Developers have the option to customize Jurassic-2 models using custom training data to further improve their accuracy. According to AI21, a training dataset with as few as 50 to 100 learning examples can provide bigger accuracy improvements than prompt engineering. In machine learning, prompt engineering is the practice of manually refining the input users enter into a neural network to improve its output.
The AI21 Studio also provides access to a series of more specialized language models. Each model in the series focuses on one task, such as generating text or summarizing documents. There’s also a neural network model optimized specifically to power chatbots.
AI21 uses several of the specialized large language models in the AI21 Studio to power its original product, the Wordtune writing assistant it debuted in 2020. Over the past three years, the tool has amassed an installed base of tens of millions of users. Besides generating text and rewriting existing documents, the tool can also summarize webpages to help users find important information faster.
“The AI21 full-stack offering combines foundation models with successful applications and operation tools that will help enterprises accelerate GenAI adoption,” said Anthony Lin, the corporate vice president of Intel Capital.
AI21 will use the proceeds from its latest raise to enhance its task-specific language models. The company will also hire more employees to support its product development and sales efforts.
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