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January 15, 2024
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Parag Agrawal, the last CEO of X (Twitter) before the Elon Musk buyout, is building an AI startup.
According to The Information, Agrawal’s startup is under wraps but has still managed to raise around $30 million in funding. Among the investors were Index Ventures, First Round Capital and Khosla Ventures. The latter was an early investor in OpenAI.
Agrawal is reportedly working on software for developers building and tweaking large language models.
He had been at Twitter for 11 years, starting as a software engineer and then becoming CTO before taking the reins of the company in 2021. Elon Musk then bought Twitter in October 2022 for $44 billion, firing Agrawal and other senior executives.
Coatue Management, one of the chief investors in Stability AI, is shutting down its European offices.
The investment firm is looking at “streamlining” its approach, according to Bloomberg, and plans to focus on domain expertise over regional coverage.
Despite the closure, the firm said its commitment to European ventures “remains steadfast.”
Coatue’s European office opened in 2022. Its European investments include startups like challenger bank Monzo, N26 and Spotify.
The company is also one of the biggest backers of Stability, which commercializes the image generation model, Stable Diffusion.
Coatue called for Stability CEO Emad Mostaque to step down last October amid boardroom turmoil at the startup. In a letter to management, Coatue is believed to have questioned Mostaque’s leadership, saying it caused an exodus of top talent and placed the startup in a shaky position. Stability went on to secure some $50 million in debt financing in the form of a convertible note from chipmaking giant Intel in November 2023.
Norwegian startup 1X develops AI-powered humanoid robots – or androids – that it said are safe to work among people. Its first robot, Eve, has a wheel instead of legs and can be deployed to do a range of tasks from fulfilling orders at warehouses to serving as security guards, among other uses. A human operator can control up to 15 Eves. The startup claims that Eve can “move through unstructured space, just like people do.”
In development is another humanoid bot, Neo, now in its second generation. This robot has a humanoid form as well with two legs. The startup said Neo’s body is made with “muscle-like anatomy instead of rigid hydraulics” so they are “strong and gentle like we are.”
Both robots continuously collect data and use AI to learn from it.
1X's Neo Robot | Credit: 1X
Latest funding: $100 million, series B
Investors: EQT Ventures, Sandwater, Samsung NEXT, Skagerak Capital, Nistad Group
Past investors: OpenAI and Tiger Global
Funding plans: Bring to market its second-generation Neo robot and support existing enterprise clients in logistics and guarding. Its next target is to deploy robots in the consumer market.
Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Ask uses natural language processing to aggregate text-heavy information to generate answers to user questions. The startup’s generative AI tech could be used to break down company knowledge or customer communication to improve decision-making.
Latest funding: $11 million, series A
Lead investors: Leaders Fund
Other investors: Vertex Ventures, State of Mind Ventures, GTMFund
Funding plans: Expand its teams in Tel Aviv and Toronto to double personnel in the next 12 months.
U.K.-based startup NumberEight is attempting to design privacy-first ad solutions using AI. The startup’s on-device sensors detect user behavior and can determine relevant ads without the need for cookies in real time.
Latest funding: $2.7 million, seed round
Lead investors: ACF Investors
Other investors: Ascension Ventures, COREangels, Enterprise 100, Nauta Capital
Funding plans: The funds will go towards boosting product development and fueling a U.S. expansion.
Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.
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