The owner of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, surprised last week by appearing among the investors in the financing round launched by the startup Perplexity AI that promises to revolutionize internet searches.
The entry of the billionaire into this small company founded less than a year ago in San Francisco (California) with less than 40 employees confirms his interest in trying to break the supremacy of Google as the main place on the Internet where people go to search for information. .
At the moment, the exact amount that Bezos deposited in the collection, which totaled 73.6 million dollars (67 million euros), has not been disclosed. But Perplexity AI is already valued at around $520 million, according to the venture capital firm IVP that carried out the financing round.
In this latest example of investors hunting for startups specializing in artificial intelligence (AI), software companies NVIDIA and Databricks , as well as venture capital firms NEA and Bessemer Venture Partners, also participated.
Perplexity AI’s search engine allows users to get instant answers to questions with sources of information, quotes, graphics, and other articles related to what they are searching for.
For example, if you ask, “What is artificial intelligence?” on the web available for open and free use. The tool answers with a brief ten-line general description, several explanatory graphics and three related articles that, according to the results, it extracts from the IBM website, Techtarget, Builtin, Wkipedia and, surprise, Google’s own search engine.
Information tracking is powered by a variety of large language models (LLMs) that can summarize and generate information , from Microsoft-owned OpenAI, which has been integrating AI into the Bing search engine for a year without managing to compete with Google. Until the LlaMA open source model launched by Meta in February 2023.
The application is still in an early phase. The bet of Bezos and the rest of the investors is based on its potential. The website and mobile app had 45 million visits in December, up from 2.2 million when the service became available in December 2022, according to data from Similarweb.
Despite its rapid growth, the company is still not profitable and generates single-digit annual revenues, so it still has a long way to go to meet Google’s 90% market share.
Its creators are optimistic. “Google is going to be seen as something that is legacy and old. Perplexity will be the next generation and the future,” Aravind Srinivas, CEO of the company, told the Reuters agency a few weeks ago. Srinivas says the search engine’s advantage is in its ability to fine-tune a variety of high-performance artificial intelligence models rather than locking itself into just one.
The company plans to use the latest financing obtained to expand its workforce from 38 people to around 60 by the end of the year to give a boost to development . In March 2023, it already raised $25.6 million for its launch, which managed to receive more than 500 million queries with hardly any investment in advertising.