Founded by former Hugging Face and Meta AI researchers, Contextual AI raised $20 million in seed funding from Bain Capital Ventures, Lightspeed and Greycroft.
Contextual AI emerged from stealth today with $20 million in funding led by Bain Capital Ventures (BCV) with participation from Lightspeed, Greycroft, SV Angel and well-known angel investors including Elad Gil, Lip-Bu Tan, Sarah Guo, Amjad Masad, Harry Stebbings, Fraser Kelton, Sarah Niyogi and Nathan Benaich. The company is creating large language models (LLMs) that are purpose-built for enterprises, such that they respect data privacy, are safer, more trustworthy, more customizable and more efficient than the current generation of LLMs.
Co-founders Douwe Kiela and Amanpreet Singh both have deep and tenured backgrounds in artificial intelligence research. The two first met as research leaders at Meta AI in 2016 and continued to build their relationship and shared passion for cutting edge research at Hugging Face. Kiela is also currently an adjunct professor at Stanford University.
Contextual AI’s proprietary research is building on the already established Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG) method, that Kiela helped pioneer while at Meta. The current generation of LLMs, while very impressive, is still NSFW – not suitable for work. In particular, the company will solve the following enterprise challenges:
- Hallucination: LLMs are known to make up information, and what is worse, they do so with very high confidence.
- Attribution: We have no real way of knowing why LLMs say what they say, so we can’t easily double-check their outputs or correct their mistakes.
- Compliance: There is no clear-cut way to remove information from an LLM, or even just to revise it, which makes them risky from a compliance perspective.
- Customization: LLMs should generalize to and be connectable with new data sources on the fly, as the data becomes available.
- Data privacy: Companies should not have to send their valuable private data to somebody else’s API endpoint.
“With 10+ years of experience as researchers in AI, natural language processing and machine learning, my cofounder Amanpreet and I are on a mission to take this powerful technology to the next step, where it can be used in real-world enterprise applications,” said Douwe Kiela, co-founder and CEO of Contextual AI. “Knowledge workers of the future need LLMs that work accurately, efficiently and effectively over huge private datasets, in a way that companies can trust.”
“Douwe and Aman are exceptional technologists who have been on the leading edge of AI research for many years. We’re excited to partner and help them bring AI to the many enterprises who are balancing its benefits with the need for security and data privacy,” said Aaref Hilaly, partner at Bain Capital Ventures.
Several Fortune 500 companies are currently in talks about piloting the company’s contextual language models on their own data. To join the waitlist, visit contextual.ai.
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