Perplexity AI, has recently made headlines with its substantial funding achievement. The company announced a $73.6 million funding round led by IVP, with contributions from NEA, Databricks Ventures, notable tech figures like former Twitter VP Elad Gil, Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, and others.
Impressively, the round also included investments from Nvidia and Jeff Bezos, underscoring the broad interest in the company's potential. Despite being valued at $520 million post-money—a modest sum in the GenAI startup world—Perplexity's rapid growth since its inception in August 2022 is nothing short of remarkable.
Founded by a team of engineers with expertise in AI, distributed systems, search engines, and databases, Perplexity is spearheaded by CEO Aravind Srinivas, an alumnus of OpenAI. Srinivas and his team are committed to developing a platform that stands apart from traditional search engines.
A User-Centric Approach to Information Search
Perplexity's distinct approach lies in its chatbot-like interface, enabling users to pose questions in natural language. The platform's AI then responds with a summary that includes source citations, facilitating further exploration into any given topic.
This user-centric model aims to provide instant, comprehensive answers, complete with full sources and citations. The platform is supported by an array of GenAI models, both developed in-house and by third parties. Perplexity's Pro plan subscribers, at $20 per month, can switch between various models including Google’s Gemini, Mistra 7Bl, Anthropic’s Claude 2.1, and OpenAI’s GPT-4.
This subscription unlocks additional features such as image generation, personalized search assistance, and the capability to upload and analyze documents for detailed insights. Despite similarities to existing GenAI tools like Google’s Bard, Microsoft’s Copilot, and ChatGPT, Perplexity's focus on a chat-forward user interface sets it apart.
The platform's intuitive design mirrors the evolving trends in consumer search, prioritizing ease of use and depth of information.
Investor Confidence Amidst Uncertainty
The path ahead for Perplexity, like many GenAI ventures, is filled with uncertainties, especially considering the dynamic nature of consumer search and AI technology.
However, investor confidence remains high. To date, Perplexity has raised over $100 million and boasts 10 million active monthly users. This capital influx is being channeled towards expanding its 39-person team and enhancing product functionality.
Cack Wilhelm, a general partner at IVP, lauds CEO Aravind Srinivas for his vision and relentless product development. His approach, which balances a grand vision with practical execution, is essential for tackling the complexities of modern search technology.