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San Francisco-based Essential AI, a startup looking to reinvent how people work with the power of AI, today emerged from stealth with $56 million in a series A round of funding. The investment has been led by March Capital with participation from tech giants Google, Nvidia and AMD. Franklin Venture Partners, KB Investment and Thrive Capital, which led the seed round of the company, also participated in the round.
While Essential is just a few months old, its founders, Ashish Vaswani and Niki Parmar, bring years of experience in the AI space. They were close collaborators at Google, where they co-authored a research paper proposing the Transformer architecture that set a new standard for language understanding in 2017 and paved the way for ChatGPT and most other AI advances we see today.
The duo now plans to use their expertise to launch AI products that will “deepen the partnership between humans and computers,” unlocking collaborative capabilities that far exceed what humans could achieve alone. This could lead to some interesting, ready-to-use AI offerings for enterprises looking to drive productivity — saving them the hassle of building AI tooling for niche tasks on their own.
What to expect from Essential AI
Essential AI has raised close to $65 million from multiple venture capital firms and technology majors but is yet to share what exactly it is building.
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From what appears on the company’s website and a recent press release shared, the goal is to develop and launch LLM-driven, full-stack AI products that will automate time-consuming workflows and quickly learn to increase productivity.
“With human feedback and technical breakthroughs, our LLMs will empower users to solve progressively harder tasks and unlock critical skills, scaling the impact of organizations on society,” the website reads.
Going by the examples shared, the company might initially target the task of running complex analyses with dedicated AI products. It says the products would make data analysts 10 times faster and give business users the ability to become independent data-driven decision-makers. Similarly, they can accelerate the pace of work for financial analysts, enabling them to crunch numbers from more companies.
At a time when almost every company is racing to drive efficiencies with AI, going for dedicated work-handling AI from a Google and Nvidia-backed vendor might be a good way for enterprises to keep up with their competition. However, it is also true that this space is very cluttered with multiple players targeting different enterprise-centric workflows with AI-driven offerings.
Just recently, DataGPT debuted to help any company talk with their data. To stand out in this crowd, Essential AI would certainly have to do more with its upcoming products.
Jamie Montgomery, who is the co-founder and managing partner of March Capital, expressed confidence in the startup’s innovation at the intersection of enterprise adoption of AI and the emergence of enterprise-grade LLMs and said it will have the support of March’s industry expertise and global network for continued growth.
With the funding, the company expected to move towards the launch of its first enterprise-centric LLM products. It is already hiring extensively across roles to innovate across the stack – from UX to models that achieve the best user value per FLOP – for the best end-user experience.
“Niki and I are excited to build a world-class, multi-disciplinary team of engineers, researchers, designers, and sales and product experts who are ready to solve real-world AI challenges and create a massive new market opportunity,” Vaswani said in a statement.
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