David Ding, Charlie Nash, and Yaroslav Ganin, previously part of Google’s DeepMind team, have recently embarked on a new venture. They’ve established Uncharted Labs, an AI startup, following their departure from Google.
At Google, they were integral to the development of generative AI systems for images and music, notably contributing to projects like Imagen and Lyria, as reported by The Information.
At DeepMind, Ding was at the helm of a 30-member research team. Uncharted Labs, based in New York, has impressively secured $8.5 million in funding, nearing its $10 million target. The Information suggests that the team’s exit from Google was influenced by the company’s sluggish pace in turning AI research into tangible products, along with internal bureaucratic challenges, which were further intensified following the DeepMind merger.
This trend of Google alumni forming new ventures is also seen in startups like Character AI, the French LLM sensation Mistral, Sakana AI, and Reka AI.
Sakana AI, a Japan based AI startup founded by ex Google researchers, recently raised $30 million to build smaller AI models. “Sakana,” translating to “fish” in Japanese, draws inspiration from the collaborative movements of fish schools and bird flocks.
Mirroring this natural coordination, Sakana AI aims to synergize smaller AI models to outperform the efficiency of larger, solitary models. This approach allows these compact models to operate effectively with less data, in contrast to more data-intensive counterparts such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard.
Tuesday’s funding announcement shed light on the most recent investment round for the Tokyo-based startup, now valued at around $200 million, according to a source with inside knowledge who chose to stay anonymous given the sensitivity of this information.
Lux Capital spearheads the investment round, with notable contributions from entities like Khosla Ventures, Sony Group Corp, and the telecommunications leader NTT from Japan, among others. The roster of investors is further bolstered by distinguished personalities in the AI arena, including Jeff Dean, head of Google’s AI and research division, Alexandr Wang of Scale AI, and Clément Delangue, CEO of HuggingFace.