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Eye On AI: So Much For That Funding Slowdown

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This column is a look back at the week that was in AI. Read the previous one here.

Before the year started, we pontificated there might be a slowdown in venture dollars and for the first few weeks it was looking like that prediction might be borne out.

While the first half of January saw some nice-sized funding rounds for AI startups, extremely big rounds were nonexistent. In fact, there were no rounds of $100 million or more until the month’s waning days (both and announced big raises on Jan. 30).

Overall, the month saw less than $2.2 billion go to AI startups, per Crunchbase data. That came after a year that saw more than $50 billion invested in the AI space.

February, however, has told a very different story — highlighted this week with reports China’s artificial intelligence startup Moonshot AI raised more than $1 billion in a funding round led by the Alibaba Group Holding and HongShan, formerly Sequoia Capital China.

In total, the first three weeks of the month have already seen more than $2.6 billion invested — including a half-dozen rounds of $100 million or more — with still a week-and-a-half left.

Aside from the Moonshot AI raise — the first $1 billion AI round of the year — other large rounds in the last week-plus include:

On top of all of that, it has been reported other big-name AI startups such as Scale AI and Perplexity AI may be raising at big valuations.

That predicted slowdown — which many VCs really believed was coming — seems to be more mythical than the unicorn.

Things that caught our eye and other stuff:

  • It was a couple of healthcare tech startups that raised money this week that caught our attention. First up, Nashville, Tennessee-based UnityAI locked up a $4 million seed round led by Max Ventures. The company uses AI to improve hospital bed management, resource allocation and patient care. It wasn’t that long ago a pandemic threw hospital management for a loop and caused administrators headaches. Perhaps AI could have helped.
  • Next up is Paris-based AZmed. The startup raised a Series A worth approximately $16.2 million. AZmed used AI tech to automatically detect fractures in X-rays — allowing doctors to spend more time on more immediate, life-threatening exams and procedures. Doctors have a limited amount of time, and several startups seem determined to use AI to free up more of that time.

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Illustration: Dom Guzman

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