Artificial intelligence

A Human Breaks Down Some Top Categories For Generative AI Funding

Illustration of man and robot looking at each other. [Dom Guzman]

Working as a reporter covering generative AI, one sometimes feels like a 15th century scribe writing about this hot new invention called the printing press.

Humans are on the job for now, but how much longer? Judging by the pace of funding in assorted AI bots and tools, investors would like it to be sooner rather than later.

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As buzz around AI’s creative abilities reaches a crescendo, we thought it would be timely to put our human skills to work while we still can. To this end, using Crunchbase data, we assembled a series of lists highlighting funding to four categories where AI is playing an ever-larger role: Video-making, music, writing and customer service:

1: Video

We’ll start with video-related offerings, which have been raking in considerable investment over the past year.

Using Crunchbase data, we assembled a list of seven funded in the past few quarters:

WSC Sports, a startup that uses AI to generate personally tailored video clips for sports fans, is the largest funding recipient, landing $100 million in Series D funding nearly a year ago. Next is Papercup, a developer of AI-powered dubbing technology that raised $20 million in a June Series A.

2: Music

Music is another area where AI is generating traction. Below, we assembled a list of five funded companies cooking up tools in the space:

Amper Music, which raised over $9 million in venture funding before selling to Shutterstock in 2020, is still kicking under its original brand, offering editable, AI-generated music that matches a user’s selected genre and length.

Boomy, a newer upstart out of Berkeley, raised $3.1 million in June to build out a platform allowing users to quickly make original songs, even if they don’t have a musical background.

Another one to watch, Tokyo-based Soundraw, pulled in $1.4 million in seed funding last summer to develop its technology, which creates music using AI that can be replayed and distributed without royalty payments.

3: Writing

Of all the buzzy areas of generative AI, writing has been the buzziest lately, thanks largely to the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. We wrote about funding to writing-focused startups a couple months ago. To follow up, we’ve put together a related list of funded AI-related companies in the space:

After OpenAI, the most heavily funded company on our list is Grammarly, the AI-powered writing assistance tool that has raised $400 million to date, including a $200 million round in late 2021 at a reported $13 billion valuation.

Next is Jasper, developer of a platform that helps create original content while optimizing it for ROI and even repackaging it in different ways and in different languages. The Austin, Texas-based company raised $125 million in an October round led by Insight Partners that vaulted it to unicorn status.

4: Customer service

The addition of automation to customer service processes is nothing new. But a raft of AI startups are working to further lessen the human labor needed for this crucial business function.

Below, we put together a list of eight recently funded companies that fit this description:

Forethought, which describes itself as a generative AI provider for customer service automation, is particularly well-funded, having raised $92 million to date. Meanwhile Retail Rocket, a Dutch company developing AI-enabled marketing automation tools, is one of the more sizable early-stage funding recipients, with a $24 million Series A last summer.

We’ve got startups. Will customers follow?

The trouble with covering startups, as opposed to public companies, is they are under no obligation to disclose just how much revenue they’re generating. In the case of enterprise AI tools, it’s safe to presume those at the early stages are equally early in drumming up sales.

But as the buzz around AI intensifies, we’re expecting 2023 to be a year of increasing enterprise adoption, and not just headline generation. For humans accustomed to doing the tasks that AI now promises to either make easier or take over altogether, the process should be both intriguing and nerve-wracking.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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