Artificial intelligence Semiconductors and 5G Startups Venture

Generative AI Chip Designer Recogni Locks Up $102M

Illustration of a gloved hand holding a semiconductor chip.

Although most startup chipmakers have not seen much love from investors so far this year, Recogni seems to have bucked that trend.

The San Jose, California-based firm, which is developing its AI inference chip for both the generative AI and automotive industries, raised a $102 million Series C co-led by Celesta Capital and GreatPoint Ventures. Existing investors Mayfield 1DNS Capital, BMW i Ventures and SW Mobility Fund also participated, along with new investors Pledge Ventures and Tasaru Mobility Investments. Debt was provided by HSBC Innovation Banking.

While the company has its roots in designing chips that help autonomous vehicles detect objects, it is now also exploring the AI market. The company’s accelerator chip uses live data in trained models for predictions — all while requiring less energy, the company says.

“The critical need for solutions that directly address the key challenges in AI inference processing — compute capability, scalability, accuracy and energy savings — is more urgent than ever,” said CEO Marc Bolitho. “Recogni is leading this transformative wave, engineering pivotal advances that will redefine data centers and enterprise, and revolutionize industries like automotive and aerospace.”

Chip funding

U.S.-based semiconductor funding has slowed in recent quarters, despite the need for new chip designs thanks to industries such as AI and automotive.

Last year such startups saw only $1.2 billion in 66 deals — per Crunchbase data — after raking in more than $2 billion in 2022.

This year has seen only a trickle of deals, seemingly offering little hope for the sector to see a real pickup nearly two months into 2024.

However, perhaps investors are finally starting to see the need.

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Illustration: Dom Guzman

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