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Eye On AI: Google Intent On Searching Out More AI Deals

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

It’s no secret big tech has gone wild investing in AI in the past year.

From Microsoft’s massive $10 billion investment in OpenAI to Nvidia’s extending list of investments in the field, corporations have stuffed the coffers of AI startups.

Google seems intent on slowly working its way up the list of big tech companies investing heavily in the next AI tools and models.

Late last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the search giant agreed to invest up to $2 billion in San Francisco-based Anthropic. The deal includes $500 million upfront plus an additional $1.5 billion more over time, according to the report. No valuation was reported.

Google had previously invested in Anthropic, including a large $300 million round for the OpenAI competitor reported back in February.

However, just in the last few months, Google has taken part in some other massive rounds in the sector, per Crunchbase data.

In August, it took part in Israel-based AI startup AI21 Labs$155 million Series C that valued the company at $1.4 billion. AI21’s developer platform for building custom text-based business applications and its multilingual reading and writing AI assistant competes with OpenAI and Anthropic.

That same month, Google also took part in AI startup Hugging Face’s $200 million round at a $4 billion valuation. The New York-based startup allows companies to store and use AI software, and hosts hundreds of thousands of open-source AI models that developers can use for AI applications.

In late June, Google also took part in New York-based AI image generator Runway’s $141 million Series C extension.

That’s not even counting participating in a $15 million round for San Francisco-based conversational AI applications builder Voiceflow in August, or the $100 million round for Palo Alto, California-based AI software developer Modular that one of its venture arms — Google Ventures — took part in in that same month.

It’s no secret Google has big intentions when it comes to AI. Seeing some of those dollar amounts and valuations lets you know how big.

Things that caught our eye and other stuff:

  • Of course, it would hardly be a week in AI if there was only one large raise. Another OpenAI and Anthropic competitor — Paris-based Mistral AI —  reportedly plans to raise an additional $300 million from investors. The raise would come less than five months after the startup — developing an open-source large language model — raised a seed round worth approximately $111 million led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. The new round is expected to value the startup at more than $1 billion before the investment, per the report in The Information.
  • With the current chip shortage, everyone is trying to optimize everything — especially when it comes to AI. Two rounds from the last couple weeks play in this very realm. MangoBoost raised a $55 million Series A for its data process unit hardware and software, which data centers use to optimize workloads for things such as AI. Then there was a massive $27 million seed round for CentML, whose software tries to optimize the implementation of machine learning models and estimate the time and cost associated. Running AI workloads is expensive — startups doing this work could be well-positioned to benefit if they can prove their solutions really work.
  • We rarely turn down a chance to talk about security, so here are another two rounds that also caught our attention. locked up a $4.8 million seed round led by Spark Capital. The startup helps companies connect their internal data to AI models in the cloud. AI monitoring and compliance platform Cranium secured a $25 million Series A led by Telstra Ventures. The platform helps companies ensure AI products they are both creating and using are secure and compliant. Cybersecurity has several roles to play when it comes to AI (as we’ve talked about), and more funding is sure to come down the pipeline.

Related reading:

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