Perplexity AI, which envisions the use of generative AI for better search engines, has just announced it raised $70 million and is now valued at $520 million post-money, as reported by TechCrunch.
The funding round was led by IVP with additional investments from NEA, Databricks Ventures, former Twitter VP Elad Gil, Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, ex-GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, and Vercel founder Guillermo Rauch. The round also included industry giants including Nvidia as well as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Perplexity’s current valuation of $520 million pales against other AI startup giants in the industry, but it is worth mentioning that the company has only been around since August 2022, which makes it an impressive feat.
Perplexity AI was founded by specialists with a background in AI, distributed systems, search engines, and databases. The founding names include Aravind Srinivas, Denis Yarats, Johnny Ho, and Andy Konwinski. Srinivas, who is currently serving as the company’s CEO has previously worked with OpenAI where he researched language and gen AI models similar to DALL-E 3 and Stable Diffusion.
Compared with Google, Bing, or other traditional search engines, Perplexity features a user interface similar to a chatbot like ChatGPT. Users can ask questions like “How do I repair my laptop?” and the AI search engine will respond with a summary containing citations of articles and websites, which users can follow for more details. Users can also ask follow-up questions.
CEO and founder Srinivas said: “With Perplexity, users can get instant … answers to any question with full sources and citations included. Perplexity is for anyone and everyone who uses technology to search for information.”
Perplexity is powered by a cluster of generative AI models some of which have been developed in-house, while some have been sourced by third parties. Subscribers who pay $20 per month for Perplexity Pro can generate images, unlock unlimited use of the search engine, and switch between different models that are currently in rotation such as Google’s Gemini, Mistra 7Bl, Anthropic’s Claude 2.1, and OpenAI’s GPT-4.
Perplexity Pro also includes Perplexity’s Copilot, which can answer questions with personal preferences for searches and allows users to upload images and documents that can be analyzed by the chatbot.