Published on May 4th, 2023 📆 | 7189 Views ⚑


Top ex-Google AI researchers raise funding from Thrive Capital -sources


May 4 (Reuters) - Two prominent former Google (GOOGL.O) researchers who authored the groundbreaking paper that paved the way for the generative AI boom, have raised $8 million for their new startup Essential AI, four sources told Reuters.

Thrive Capital had led the round in Essential AI, founded by Ashish Vaswani and Niki Parmar. The company is still in stealth mode and hasn't launched any product. Conviction and angel investor Elad Gil also participated in the round, one source close to the company added.

Thrive Capital, founded by Joshua Kushner, is also an investor in Microsoft-backed OpenAI.

Essential AI aims to build software for enterprises to use large language models, the core software of a new artificial intelligence system that has powered generative AI applications such as ChatGPT, sources said.

Thrive Capital declined to comment. Vaswani and Parmar didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.

The raise came after Vaswani and Parmar left Adept AI, a company they also co-founded in 2021 with former Google director David Luan. Adept, focused on training a neural network to perform general tasks for enterprise clients, has raised $415 million from investors including General Catalyst. EssentialAI is not in direct competition with Adept, sources added.

Vaswani and Parmar are the first and third authors on Google's 2017 research paper "Attention Is All You Need", which introduced the "transformer" deep learning architecture that went on to become the basis for viral chatbot ChatGPT and the current race to develop products powered by generative AI.

The duo join other authors on the famous paper who have left Google (GOOGL.O) to start their own ventures and subsequently attracted millions in funding from venture investors, including Noam Shazeer, who is running AI chatbot startup Character.AI, and Aidan Gomez, who founded large language model startup Cohere.

Reporting by Krystal Hu in New York and Anna Tong in San Francisco; editing by Diane Craft

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Anna Tong is a correspondent for Reuters based in San Francisco, where she reports on the technology industry. She joined Reuters in 2023 after working at the San Francisco Standard as a data editor. Tong previously worked at technology startups as a product manager and at Google where she worked in user insights and helped run a call center. Tong graduated from Harvard University.

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