Together lands $102.5M investment to grow its cloud for training generative AI

Key Takeaways:

– Generative AI companies are raising large amounts of capital for their open source and commercial ambitions.
– See Together, a startup focused on open source generative AI and AI model development infrastructure, has closed a $102.5 million Series A funding round led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from Nvidia and Emergence Capital.
– The funding will be used to expand Together’s cloud platform that allows developers to build on open and custom models.
– The co-founder and CEO of Together, Vipul Ved Prakash, believes that generative AI is a platform technology that will have a long-range impact on society, and it is important to have choice and options in the AI ecosystem.
– Together’s cloud platform offers scalable compute at lower prices compared to dominant vendors like Google Cloud, AWS, and Azure.
– Together operates a cloud spanning datacenters in the U.S. and EU and serves customers in various industries.
– Together also offers consulting services to help customers design, build, and test custom models using their own data.
– The company is actively involved in AI research and has released several open source generative AI models.

TechCrunch:

Generative AI companies continue to raise huge amounts of capital to fuel their commercial — and, in some cases, open source — ambitions.

See Together, a startup creating open source generative AI and AI model dev infrastructure, which today announced that it closed a $102.5 million Series A funding round led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from Nvidia and Emergence Capital. The tranche — over five times the size of the company’s previous round — will be put toward expanding Together’s cloud platform that lets developers build on open and custom models, according to co-founder and CEO Vipul Ved Prakash.

“Startups and enterprises alike are looking to build a generative AI strategy for their business that is free from lock-in to a single vendor,” Prakash wrote in a blog post published on Together’s website this morning. “Open source AI provides a strong foundation for these applications with increasingly powerful generative models being released almost weekly … We believe generative AI is a platform technology, a new operating system for applications, and will have a long-range impact on human society. The AI ecosystem will consist of proprietary models and open models, and it’s incredibly important that this future has choice and options.”

Vipul co-founded Together, launched in June 2022, with Ce Zhang, Chris Re and Percy Liang. Prakash formerly founded social media search platform Topsy, which was acquired in 2013 by Apple, where he later became a senior director.

With Together, Prakash, Zhang, Re and Liang seek to create open source models and services that help organizations incorporate AI into their applications. To that end, Together has built a cloud platform for running, training and fine-tuning open source models that the co-founders claim offers scalable compute at lower prices than the dominant vendors (e.g., Google Cloud, AWS, Azure).

At present, Together operates a cloud spanning datacenters in the U.S. and EU, including servers operated by partners Crusoe Cloud and Vultr, that delivers around 20 exaflops of compute in total. Customers include Pika Labs, NexusFlow, Voyage AI and Cartesia, some of whom also leverage Together’s model-serving APIs.

“By creating custom infrastructure, we can offer significantly better economics on pre-training and inference workloads,” Vipul continued. “The Together AI platform allows developers to quickly and easily integrate leading open source models or create their own models through pre-training or fine-tuning. Our customers choose to bring their generative AI workloads to Together AI owing to our industry leading performance and reliability; while still having comfort that they own the result of their investment in AI and are always free to run their model on any platform.”

To complement the cloud service, Together offers what it calls Custom Models, a consulting service that allows customers to bring their own data to the Together cloud platform and have Together’s team work to design, build and test a model.

Together also heavily invests in AI research. One of the company’s first projects, RedPajama, aims to foster a set of open source generative AI models including “chat” models along the lines of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Together’s also released a fine-tuned version of Meta’s Llama 2 text-generating model; GPT-JT, a fork of the open source text-generating model GPT-J-6B (from the open research group EleutherAI); and OpenChatKit, an attempt at a ChatGPT equivalent.

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AI Eclipse TLDR:

Generative AI companies are continuing to raise significant amounts of capital to support their commercial and open-source initiatives. One such company is Together, a startup focused on creating open-source generative AI and AI model development infrastructure. Together recently announced the closure of a $102.5 million Series A funding round, led by Kleiner Perkins and with participation from Nvidia and Emergence Capital.

The funds raised will be used to expand Together’s cloud platform, which enables developers to build on open and custom models. According to Vipul Ved Prakash, co-founder and CEO of Together, startups and enterprises are increasingly interested in developing a generative AI strategy that is not tied to a single vendor. Open-source AI provides a strong foundation for these applications, with powerful generative models being released regularly.

Together’s cloud platform offers scalable compute at lower prices compared to dominant vendors like Google Cloud, AWS, and Azure. The company operates a cloud spanning data centers in the U.S. and EU, delivering approximately 20 exaflops of compute in total. Some of Together’s customers include Pika Labs, NexusFlow, Voyage AI, and Cartesia, who also utilize the company’s model-serving APIs.

In addition to the cloud service, Together provides a consulting service called Custom Models, allowing customers to bring their own data to the platform and have Together’s team design, build, and test a model. The company also invests heavily in AI research and has developed several open-source generative AI models, including “chat” models similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Overall, Together aims to create open-source models and services that help organizations incorporate AI into their applications. By offering customizable infrastructure and industry-leading performance and reliability, Together seeks to provide a platform where customers can freely run their models on any platform while owning the results of their AI investments.