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At Microsoft Build’s 2021 conference, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman introduced the ‘OpenAI Startup Fund’ with plans to invest $100 million to support AI startups and bring a positive impact on the world. In May, OpenAI raised $175 million for the startup fund.
“We plan to make big early bets on a relatively small number of companies, probably not more than ten,” said Altman. There’s a total of seven startups across industries, including robotics, legal, education and others, supported by the fund. It has been almost a year since the fund’s launch, let’s see how the startups have benefited under the coveted program?
Mapping the Startups
The OpenAI Startup Fund has invested in a total of seven companies, out of which two are available as ChatGPT plugins and two are not operational yet.
One of the first startups supported by OpenAI’s Fund is a language-learning mobile app that uses speech recognition methods and AI tutor to teach people to speak English. Founded by Andrew Hsu, the company recently raised $16 million in a Series B-2 funding round. With this, the company has raised $63million and looks to expand to more markets, including the US. Interestingly, Speak is also available as a ChatGPT plugin.
Founded by Andrew Mason, the app uses AI to edit audio and video in a simple text editor. OpenAI is said to have led investments of tens of millions of dollars in Descript. The company has raised $100 million till date. Recently, Descript bought remote recording studio SquadCast for an undisclosed amount, pushing itself to becoming a one-stop solution for recording, editing and publishing podcasts and videos.
Founded by Eric Kim, Mem is an AI-powered workspace that can be personalised to organise notes as per one’s needs. OpenAI led a $23.5M investment in November 2022. The company has raised $29.1M till date.
Founded by Gabriel Pereyra and Winston Weinberg, Harvey is an AI technology service provider for legal workers. The product provides lawyers with a natural language interface for their existing legal workflow. OpenAI led a $5M round for Harvey and the company has raised a total of $26M. Earlier this year, one of the world’s largest law firms, Allen & Overy, announced its integration with Harvey, which would be used by 3500 lawyers across 43 offices in multiple languages.
Founded by Avni Patel Thompson, Milo is an AI assistant that helps in organising, planning tasks, messages and other functions within a family. Milo has raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed and seed capital from OpenAI, Y Combinator and a number of angel investors. The application is yet to be opened to the public. Interestingly, Milo was part of the first set of 12 ChatGPT plugins launched in March.
Founded by Bernt Øivind Børnich, 1X formerly known as Halodi Robotics, aims to augment labour through the safe use of advanced technologies in robotics. In March, the company raised $23.5M pushing the total amount raised by 1X to $36.5M.
Classified as an AI company alone, the startup has received a seed of $250K from the OpenAI Startup Fund. However, no other details about company operations are revealed.
Besides the above seven companies that OpenAI Startup Fund took under its wings, Altman has committed to investing in startups in countries such as India, South Korea and others to boost AI development.