SeMI Technologies’ $16M Highlights New Wave of AI-first Database Tech

SeMI Technologies, developer of the open-source Weaviate vector-search database, has closed a $16 million Series A financing co-led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Cortical Ventures. This investment follows a previously unannounced $1.6 million seed financing led by Zetta Venture Partners with ING Ventures also participating, in August 2020.

The new infusion of capital acknowledges the value of SeMI Technologies’ leading position in vector databases, a new type of database opening up a new era of AI-first database technologies. Previous databases just stored raw data; Weaviate stores data that is processed by machine learning models, allowing users to better index and search through their data. The investment will allow SeMI to grow its team, user community, and roster of partners; increase the number of use cases; and to create and fine-tune its ML models and modules.

SeMI Technologies was originally spun out of ING Labs. The founders, CEO Bob Van Luijt, CTO Etienne Dilocker, and COO Micha Verhagen set out to democratize search capabilities that have, until now, been closely guarded by a handful of huge tech companies. The Weaviate vector search database is open source and SeMI gives customers the option of running it on their infrastructure (allowing them to maintain control of their data, safely behind their own firewalls) or as a managed SaaS offering with one-click access.

“We represent a third wave in database technology,” says van Luijt.”Oracle’s SQL dominance was followed by open-source NoSQL databases pioneered by companies like MongoDB. Weaviate gives any enterprise the advantage of databases built with ML and deep learning at their core. The first use cases have been natural-language ones but we are also exploring images, videos, audio, and even esoteric cases such as graph or gene embeddings.”

SeMI Technologies offers products and services around its Weaviate open-source solution. These include managed services, a service license agreement, and support. Weaviate has already been downloaded over 700k times (a number growing about 30% per month!) Hundreds of users have applied Weaviate in more than 100 different use cases in technology, finance, media, cybersecurity, health care, and many other industries.

“We’ve been closely watching ML and AI advancements and waiting for the right team and product to reinvent how we work with data,” said Tony Florence, Managing General Partner, Technology at NEA. “The Weaviate Vector Database enables users to interact with unstructured data as vectors, across text, audio, and images, which unlocks incredibly powerful use cases. We’re thrilled to partner with Bob and the SeMi Technologies team to democratize access to new data applications— from neural semantic search to vector-based recommender systems and more.”

“This investment will allow us to focus on making Weaviate the de facto standard in open-source vector search,” says SeMI’s van Luijt. “As a bonus, both NEA and Cortical bring valuable knowledge and experience from OSS “deep tech” companies that will catalyze our growth and product development.”

“Over the next decade, AI-driven applications will transform every industry and every part of our lives, creating trillions of dollars of market value,” said Igor Taber, General Partner at Cortical Ventures. “Weaviate has the potential to be a core database technology powering these applications.  We are excited to work with Bob and the entire SeMI team to build the category-defining company.”

With pandemic restrictions finally easing, van Luijt and the SeMI team are happy to have more opportunities to meet with and grow the open source community around the Weaviate project. To learn more visit:

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