Cohere, an enterprise-focused generative artificial intelligence startup, has raised $270 million in a Series C round of venture capital which includes AI giant Nvidia as an investor.
As big tech companies race to secure their positions over AI ecosystems, the enterprise giants are making multiple startup investments. In the new Cohere round, Oracle and Salesforce were also investors. The $270 million round was more than Cohere, which is only four years old, had raised in total to date — $175 million. Cohere is one of the companies that the new Salesforce Ventures generative AI fund is investing in.
Cohere makes AI tools that can power copywriting, search and summarization, and it sees an opportunity to grow in the market and differentiate itself from OpenAI by focusing on enterprise concerns about proprietary data being fed into large language models. OpenAI, which requires large amounts of data to train its models, is working with enterprise clients to address these concerns. The company is also signing deals with major firms to embed its gen AI technology within sectors from tech to financial services while providing a firewall around corporate data, and is also reportedly at work on an open source version of its AI.
Cohere says current customers include global streaming platforms, apparel companies, and companies that use the platform to streamline customer service or improve content moderation capabilities. It recently collaborated with conversational commerce and AI chatbot software company LivePerson to offer customized large language models for businesses.
“We want to build that toolkit that’s accessible to any dev,” co-founder and CEO Aidan Gomez told CNBC in June 2022.
More recently, he told CNBC “What you’re going to see is humans are going to become ten times more effective at what they do,” he said, though he stressed that the adoption of AI and its acceleration in the workplace will take years. “The reality is this will be a slow process over the next half-decade and there will be time to adjust, and change your own job,” he said.
A new survey on the U.S. workforce out on Thursday from CNBC and SurveyMonkey shows that roughly one-quarter of U.S. workers fear AI will soon make their jobs obsolete. The majority say they are not using AI today, but many workers (43%) say they expect their job to change significantly in the next five years due to disruption from AI.
Cohere’s founders have strong ties to Alphabet‘s Google. Gomez and Nick Frosst are former members of the Google Brain team (an exploratory AI team that is now under Google Research). Gomez, Cohere’s CEO, worked with others at Alphabet’s Google to develop transformers, a new natural language processing method that improves contextual awareness and accuracy.
In November 2022, Cohere partnered with Google’s cloud platform to train its models.
Nvidia’s stock price has climbed over 160% this year buoyed by booming AI chip sales, as investors view it as one of the tech giants likely to dominate the evolving AI landscape. Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang expressed confidence in Cohere, saying in a press release announcing the funding, “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.”
“We’re pre the real deployment, so I think simmering underneath the water is all this work going on to just transform every product, every single company,” Gomez told CNBC in May.
The new round of funding for Cohere was led by Inovia Capital, and also included DTCP, Mirae Asset, Schroders Capital, former Disruptor 50 company SentinelOne, Thomvest Ventures, and returning investor Index Ventures.