Generative AI Startup Cohere Scores $270 Million

Purple Aibrain

By: Mary Jander

Generative AI startup Cohere has announced $270 million in Series C funding from a roster of investors that includes Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, NVIDIA, Oracle, and Salesforce Ventures, to name just a few.

The round feeds into the enthusiasm around generative AI, especially since Cohere’s focus is on enterprise use of the technology. “AI will be the heart that powers the next decade of business success,” said Aidan Gomez, CEO and co-founder, in the press release. “The next phase of AI products and services will revolutionize business, and we are ready to lead the way.”

Big talk, but supported by credible backers. NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang, who is the man of the moment in generative AI, is also quoted in the release: “The team at Cohere has made foundational contributions to generative AI. Their service will help enterprises around the world harness these capabilities to automate and accelerate.”

An Enterprise Focus

Founded in 2019 by Aidan Gomez (ex-Google), Nick Frosst (ex-Google), and Ivan Zhang, Cohere has stuck to its enterprise remit from the start. It’s built a solid assembly of customers who use its large language models to create business-oriented applications. These include the likes of BambooHR, HyperWrite, Jasper AI, and Spotify, among others. For all, Cohere offers APIs and developer tools to boost customization for specific purposes.

Cohere's founders. From left, Ivan Zhang, CEO Aidan Gomez, and Nick Frosst. Source: Cohere

Among the company’s products are Command, a text generation model for use creating marketing materials, press releases, emailings, and the like. Another product, a multilingual understanding model, is used to search text in over 100 languages. Other products in beta include a model that summarizes key elements of a text document and a model that precisely ranks search results alongside services such as AWS’s OpenSearch.

What, No Google?

Cohere’s latest round brings the company’s total raised to $445 million. It was led by Inovia Capital with participation from Mirae Aset, Schroders Capital, SentinelOne, Thomvest Ventures, and Index Ventures, along with the companies listed above.

Notably missing from the list is Alphabet’s Google, which was last fall rumored to be contemplating a sizable investment in the startup, according to the Wall Street Journal. Back in November 2021, Cohere also announced a multi-year partnership with Google Cloud that stated:

“Many of Cohere’s products will be developed and deployed on Cloud TPUs, Google’s supercomputers that are optimized for large-scale ML, enabling Cohere to broaden access to advanced large language models (LLMs) and NLP [natural language processing] to more small businesses and large enterprises alike.”

It's not clear whether Google has invested in Cohere, but there’s a good reason why the company would like to keep any contribution from a cloud hyperscaler close to the vest: Cohere wishes to remain “cloud agnostic.” A spokesman said that Cohere wants to maintain a diversity of investors instead of taking one check from any one company, including a cloud company.

This contrasts with the strategy adopted by ChatGPT creator OpenAI, in which Microsoft has invested billions, or that of Anthropic, which recently raised its own Series C and in which Google has invested several hundred million, making it the startup’s preferred cloud provider.

“[W]e're available on GCP, AWS, and soon others,” stated a company spokesman in an email to Futuriom. “At a foundational level, Cohere's platform is built to be available on every cloud, deployed inside customers’ existing cloud environment, virtual private cloud (VPC), or even on-site, to meet companies where their data is.”

Is this a safer bet than hooking up to a leading cloud player? In the short term, Cohere's determination to be cloud-agnostic may cost it some of the hefty funding enjoyed by Anthropic or OpenAI. But in the long term, Cohere's more focused strategy may help it cast its own wide net into a pool that's just starting to rise but promises to be deep and wide.