Generative AI companies continue to raise huge amounts of capital to fuel their commercial — and, in some cases, open source — ambitions.
See Together, a startup creating open source generative AI and AI model dev infrastructure, which today announced that it closed a $102.5 million Series A funding round led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from Nvidia and Emergence Capital. The tranche — over five times the size of the company’s previous round — will be put toward expanding Together’s cloud platform that lets developers build on open and custom models, according to co-founder and CEO Vipul Ved Prakash.
“Startups and enterprises alike are looking to build a generative AI strategy for their business that is free from lock-in to a single vendor,” Prakash wrote in a blog post published on Together’s website this morning. “Open source AI provides a strong foundation for these applications with increasingly powerful generative models being released almost weekly … We believe generative AI is a platform technology, a new operating system for applications, and will have a long-range impact on human society. The AI ecosystem will consist of proprietary models and open models, and it’s incredibly important that this future has choice and options.”
Vipul co-founded Together, launched in June 2022, with Ce Zhang, Chris Re and Percy Liang. Prakash formerly founded social media search platform Topsy, which was acquired in 2013 by Apple, where he later became a senior director.
With Together, Prakash, Zhang, Re and Liang seek to create open source models and services that help organizations incorporate AI into their applications. To that end, Together has built a cloud platform for running, training and fine-tuning open source models that the co-founders claim offers scalable compute at lower prices than the dominant vendors (e.g., Google Cloud, AWS, Azure).
At present, Together operates a cloud spanning datacenters in the U.S. and EU, including servers operated by partners Crusoe Cloud and Vultr, that delivers around 20 exaflops of compute in total. Customers include Pika Labs, NexusFlow, Voyage AI and Cartesia, some of whom also leverage Together’s model-serving APIs.
“By creating custom infrastructure, we can offer significantly better economics on pre-training and inference workloads,” Vipul continued. “The Together AI platform allows developers to quickly and easily integrate leading open source models or create their own models through pre-training or fine-tuning. Our customers choose to bring their generative AI workloads to Together AI owing to our industry leading performance and reliability; while still having comfort that they own the result of their investment in AI and are always free to run their model on any platform.”
To complement the cloud service, Together offers what it calls Custom Models, a consulting service that allows customers to bring their own data to the Together cloud platform and have Together’s team work to design, build and test a model for whatever app or service the company wishes to launch.
Together also heavily invests in AI research. One of the company’s first projects, RedPajama, aims to foster a set of open source generative AI models including “chat” models along the lines of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Together’s also released GPT-JT, a fork of the open source text-generating model GPT-J-6B (released by the research group EleutherAI), and OpenChatKit, an attempt at a ChatGPT equivalent.