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Together raises $20M to build open source generative AI models

Together, a tech startup, has raised $20M in a seed funding round to develop open source generative AI models. This significant step aims to democratize AI, ensuring its benefits reach a wider audience.

Amidst the buzz of generative AI, an area of AI that's capable of creating everything from essays to artwork, a new startup named Together is carving its niche. Generative AI companies have collectively raised $1.7 billion in Q1 2023 alone, reflecting investors' keen interest in this burgeoning technology. Despite heavy competition from established players like OpenAI and Anthropic, emerging ventures are successfully attracting significant funding.

Together, a startup committed to developing open source generative AI, is one such venture. It recently announced a hefty seed funding round of $20 million, led by Lux Capital. Other participants included Factory, SV Angel, First Round Capital, Long Journey Ventures, Robot Ventures, Definition Capital, Susa Ventures, Cadenza Ventures, and SCB 10x. Prominent angel investors like PayPal co-founder Scott Banister and Cloudera founding employee Jeff Hammerbacher also backed the startup.

Having officially launched in June 2022, Together is the brainchild of Vipul Ved Prakash, Ce Zhang, Chris Re, and Percy Liang. Their vision is to craft open source generative AI models that assist organizations in integrating AI into their production applications seamlessly. In pursuit of this, Together is creating a cloud platform that will facilitate the running, training, and fine-tuning of open source models.

The startup's first project, RedPajama, in collaboration with groups like the MILA Québec AI Institute, CRFM, and ETH's data science lab, DS3Lab, is designed to nurture open source generative models. Another notable initiative is GPT-JT, a fork of the open source text-generating model GPT-J-6B.

To accelerate their mission, Together plans to boost its team size from 24 to around 40 by year-end and invest the rest of the seed capital in R&D, infrastructure, and product development. Their sales pitch heavily emphasizes greater transparency, control, and privacy, appealing to enterprises that value these attributes in their AI systems.

Although it's still early days for Together and the company hasn't disclosed any customer or revenue details, their ambition is clear. They aim to create a self-sustaining, open ecosystem that generates the best AI systems for the benefit of humanity.