Category: Startup

Intel has recently unveiled Articul8 AI, a cutting-edge generative AI enterprise startup. The venture is launched with substantial support from DigitalBridge

Intel has taken a significant step in advancing artificial intelligence by launching Articul8 AI, a new independent company dedicated to addressing what it identifies as the most considerable current gap in generative AI. This venture is backed by the digital-focused asset manager DigitalBridge Group among other investors, signaling a robust confidence in the project’s potential. Although the precise valuation of the deal remains undisclosed, Intel’s move to form an independent entity with its own board of directors marks a strategic step towards leveraging AI advancements.

The inception of Articul8 AI is rooted in Intel’s collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to exploit the capabilities of generative AI in a corporate environment. By harnessing the power of its supercomputers, Intel has developed a sophisticated AI system capable of analyzing text and images by integrating open-source and proprietary technologies. This system, tailored for operation within BCG’s data centers, is a response to the growing demand for AI solutions that prioritize privacy and security without compromising efficiency.

Arun Subramaniyan, who has transitioned from his role as vice president and general manager in Intel’s Data Center and AI Group, is at the helm of Articul8 as its CEO. His leadership is expected to guide the company in overcoming the prevalent skepticism associated with entrusting sensitive data to large cloud computing entities and to address the escalating costs linked to deploying AI systems. Under his guidance, Articul8 aims to streamline the transition of generative AI applications from the experimental stage to full-scale production, emphasizing security and cost-effectiveness.

The establishment of Articul8 AI is a strategic move that aligns with Intel’s broader objectives of attracting external capital for its business units. This is evident from its recent endeavors, including the spin-out of Mobileye Global and the planned IPO for its programmable chip unit. The formation of Articul8, armed with substantial intellectual property and technology from Intel, underscores a continued partnership between the two entities, focusing on market opportunities and the adoption of GenAI in the enterprise sector. With a strong investor lineup and a mission to empower global enterprises, Articul8 is poised to make a significant impact on the integration and efficient deployment of GenAI capabilities across various industries.

The cloud-native cybersecurity firm, Aqua Security, has successfully secured a $60M investment, sustaining its valuation in the unicorn category.

Aqua Security, a prominent Israeli cybersecurity startup, has recently increased its Series E funding by an additional $60 million, bringing the total for this round to an impressive $195 million. This startup, founded in 2015, is headquartered in Tel Aviv and Boston and has quickly become a leader in the field of cloud service protection. It offers a wide array of security services designed to protect businesses’ cloud infrastructure and has garnered a noteworthy client roster that includes prominent names such as PayPal, Netflix, and Samsung.

The services provided by Aqua Security span various critical areas of cybersecurity. These include Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP), Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), and Kubernetes security posture management. Additionally, they offer comprehensive solutions in software supply chain security, risk and vulnerability scanning, malware protection, and more. This extensive suite of tools is a testament to Aqua Security’s commitment to providing robust and comprehensive security solutions.

Since its inception, Aqua Security has shown impressive growth and is now a significant player in the cybersecurity space, with total funding reaching around $325 million. The latest funding round was led by Evolution Equity Partners, a venture capital firm that specializes in the cybersecurity industry and which recently launched a $400 million fund. This investment signals a strong vote of confidence in Aqua Security’s future, especially noteworthy in the current funding climate, which has been challenging for many startups seeking capital.

Despite the fresh influx of capital, it’s interesting to note that Aqua Security’s valuation has seemingly remained stable, reportedly above $1 billion, just as it was during the announcement of the Series E round three years ago. While on one hand, maintaining such a high valuation is an achievement, especially in a dynamic and competitive market, it might also suggest a plateau in growth or valuation momentum. However, the entry of Evolution Equity Partners as a lead investor might counterbalance these concerns by providing a fresh perspective and potentially opening new doors for Aqua Security’s expansion and innovation.

In conclusion, Aqua Security’s recent funding achievement underscores its significant role in the cybersecurity industry. The company’s comprehensive range of services, impressive client list, and substantial total funding position it as a serious contender in the global market for cloud security solutions. As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve with increasing threats and complex regulatory environments, Aqua Security’s continued growth and adaptation will be vital. The static valuation juxtaposed with new investor interest paints a nuanced picture of a company at an interesting growth inflection point. As Aqua Security moves forward, the industry will undoubtedly watch to see how it leverages its new capital to innovate, expand, and compete.

Vestwell secures $125M in funding to assist companies in enhancing workplace savings plans.

Vestwell, a provider of workplace savings program infrastructure, recently secured $125 million in a funding round termed “preempted.” Led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, the funding round included both returning investors, like Fin Capital and Primary Venture Partners, and newcomers Blue Owl and HarbourVest. While the New York-based fintech company chose not to disclose its valuation, it’s notable that Justin Overdorff from Lightspeed has joined Vestwell’s board as part of the investment.

Founded in 2016 by CEO Aaron Schumm, Vestwell launched its cloud-native platform in 2017 and has since accumulated $227.5 million in total funding. Schumm, without specifying exact revenue, revealed substantial growth to TechCrunch, highlighting a 1000% revenue increase over three years and plans to double annual recurring revenue and volume in 2023.

Vestwell, serving over a million users across 300,000 businesses, facilitates savings programs through partnerships with financial institutions, state governments, and payroll companies, profiting from monthly fees. The company offers a broad range of savings solutions, including retirement and health programs, and has notably become a dominant force in state auto-IRA savings programs, powering the majority in the US.

The recent funding will fuel further expansion of state savings initiatives, product enhancements, and potential acquisitions, as evidenced by their recent acquisition of Gradifi from Morgan Stanley. With a team that has grown significantly over the past year, Vestwell continues to build its market position, backed by its investors’ confidence and recognition as a leading innovator in the savings sector.

Medallion, a platform dedicated to enabling artists to engage directly with their audience, secures $13.7 million in funding

Medallion is carving out a niche as a comprehensive digital platform tailored for artists, providing them with a dedicated hub to promote albums, tours, merchandise, and exclusive content. The intent is to cultivate deeper connections with fans by offering a suite of tools for managing digital collectibles, early access to content, and direct engagement opportunities. The company announced a significant milestone, securing $13.7 million in Series A funding, co-led by notable firms Dragonfly and Lightspeed Faction, which underscores the industry’s recognition of the platform’s potential to revolutionize artist-fan interactions.

The platform is designed to address a growing need among artists for more autonomy and direct ownership over their relationships with fans, circumventing the complexities and limitations of third-party platforms. Medallion’s artist-centric approach is evident in its features that allow for selling of exclusive digital and physical merchandise, including innovative offerings like “Digital Deluxe” albums. This particular feature, available in the U.K., Australia, and Germany, allows artists to sell digital versions of albums complete with embedded players and exclusive media. As a blockchain-based platform, Medallion offers security and ease of use, allowing sign-ins through various wallet providers and offering a customizable, white-label space for artists to make their own.

Medallion’s strategy is not just about technology but also community building. The platform is currently used by a select group of 20 artists, including names like Greta Van Fleet and Disclosure, and is focused on expanding its reach. The team, comprised of veterans from across the tech, e-commerce, and music industries, is dedicated to refining the platform’s features and ensuring it meets the evolving needs of artists and fans alike. The company’s gradual expansion plan indicates a commitment to quality and sustainable growth, with wider availability projected for the coming years.

In sum, Medallion represents a significant shift in the music industry, positioning artists at the forefront of their digital strategy and offering fans more immersive and interactive ways to support and engage with their favorite musicians. With its recent funding and ambitious plans for expansion, Medallion is poised to play a critical role in shaping the future of artist-to-fan connections.

The AI-powered NotebookLM note-taking application from Google is now accessible to users residing in the United States.

Google has officially made its AI note-taking app accessible to all users in the United States who are at least 18 years old, as disclosed by the company on Friday. This experimental app is also undergoing significant enhancements and now leverages Gemini Pro, Google’s new extensive language model, to assist with document comprehension and logical reasoning.

Upon uploading documents to NotebookLM, the application can automatically generate summaries and propose follow-up inquiries regarding the document’s content. Unlike conventional chatbots that draw from vast and unrelated information sources, NotebookLM concentrates solely on the documents it receives.

Google is now introducing additional functionalities to the product, moving beyond just producing summaries and suggesting queries. NotebookLM is equipped with new tools aimed at aiding users in structuring their curated notes into organized writing projects. For instance, users can select a group of notes and instruct NotebookLM to create something fresh, like a script outline, an email newsletter, or a marketing plan draft.

Furthermore, NotebookLM can now propose actions based on your ongoing tasks. For instance, if you’ve highlighted a passage while reading a source, NotebookLM will proactively offer to summarize the selected text into a new note or help you grasp the content’s meaning. In another scenario, if you’re composing a note, NotebookLM will offer to refine your writing or suggest related ideas from your sources based on your current content.

To enhance user experience, Google is introducing a new noteboard space where you can conveniently pin quotes from your conversations or your self-authored notes. This addition was in response to user requests for the ability to save interactions with NotebookLM as notes.

Google is also implementing some minor adjustments to the product. When adding a note, NotebookLM will now create an independent new note instead of adding it to a single notepad. Additionally, clicking on a citation number in a chat response or saved note will instantly take you to the original quote in the source.

For users who prefer a focused note-taking experience, NotebookLM allows you to hide the source. If you wish to direct NotebookLM’s AI towards specific sources, you can engage with a chosen set of sources individually in the source sidebar. Furthermore, Google is introducing support for PDFs and copied text, enabling users to copy and paste text to create a new source and edit its title once it’s generated.

In addition to these new features, Google is extending the product’s capabilities, allowing notebooks to include up to 20 sources and a source to accommodate up to 200,000 words.

This announcement follows approximately five months after Google initially introduced NotebookLM to a select group of users. Initially showcased as Project Tailwind during Google I/O earlier in the year, Google marketed it as an “AI notebook for everyone,” with applications for students to organize lecture notes and coursework documents.

While NotebookLM holds promise, it remains to be seen whether it will avoid the fate of many of Google’s experimental projects consigned to the “Google Graveyard,” as previously highlighted by TechCrunch’s Devin Coldeway.

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