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Jim Keller’s AI Chip Unicorn Locks Up $100M From Strategic Investors

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AI chip startup Tenstorrent closed a $100 million strategic financing from the likes of Hyundai and Samsung in what the company is calling an “up-round.”

The Toronto-based company previously reached unicorn status after its $200 million-plus raise in 2021. 

Hyundai Motor Group and Samsung Catalyst Fund led the new round. Other investors include Fidelity Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, Epiq Capital, Maverick Capital and more.

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Tenstorrent, which is developing a wide range of AI chips, will use the new cash infusion for product development, including design and development of AI chiplets and its ML software roadmap.

Founded in 2016, the company has now raised nearly $335 million, per Crunchbase.

Tenstorrent is led by top chip designer Jim Keller, who has worked at Apple, AMD, Tesla and Intel.

AI trends

The round does not just illustrate investors’ appetite for AI, but also two specific trends inside of the AI craze itself.

First, strategics are playing a huge role in growing out the AI ecosystem. Nvidia, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce’s venture arm, Salesforce Ventures 1are putting millions, if not billions, of dollars into startups trying to get the innovation edge in generative AI.

Secondly, while the large generative AI platforms like OpenAI and Anthropic garner much of the attention when it comes to the space, investors and strategics are seeing big opportunities in the infrastructure layer that supports those platforms.

In recent months, investors have eyed anything from chips and enhanced compute to unique data sets to help with modeling. Startups including CoreWeave, which provides GPU-accelerated compute solutions, and Pinecone, which creates vector databases, have raised big money contributing to the foundation layer of AI.

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Illustration: Dom Guzman

  1. Salesforce Ventures is an investor in Crunchbase. They have no say in our editorial process. For more, head here.


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