AI

Together Secures $102.5M Investment to Expand Its Cloud for Training Generative AI

Generative AI companies continue to secure significant funding to drive their commercial and open source initiatives.

Together, a startup dedicated to creating open source generative AI and AI model development infrastructure, has announced the closure of a $102.5 million Series A funding round. The funding was led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from Nvidia and Emergence Capital. The sizable investment, which is over five times the amount raised in the company’s previous round, will be utilized to enhance Together’s cloud platform. This platform enables developers to build on open and custom AI models, according to co-founder and CEO Vipul Ved Prakash.

In a blog post published on Together’s website, Prakash highlighted the growing interest among startups and enterprises in establishing a generative AI strategy that is not tied to a single vendor. He emphasized the significance of open source AI in providing a robust foundation for applications with increasingly powerful generative models being released frequently. Prakash expressed his belief that generative AI is a platform technology and will have a lasting impact on human society. He also stressed the importance of offering choice and options between proprietary models and open models in the future.

Together, founded in June 2022 by Vipul Ved Prakash, Ce Zhang, Chris Re, and Percy Liang, aims to develop open source models and services to facilitate the integration of AI into organizations’ applications. The company has built a cloud platform for running, training, and fine-tuning models, which is claimed to offer scalable compute at lower prices compared to dominant vendors such as Google Cloud, AWS, and Azure.

According to a blog post by Together, the company is achieving significant reductions in the cost of interactive inference workloads on large models. The platform optimizes down the stack, utilizing thousands of GPUs located in secure facilities, along with software for virtualization, scheduling, and model optimizations.

Currently, Together operates a cloud spanning data centers in the U.S. and EU, delivering around 20 exaflops of compute in total, with the capacity to scale in clusters from 16 GPUs to 2,048 GPUs. Some of the company’s customers, including NexusFlow, Voyage AI, and Cartesia, leverage Together’s APIs for serving models.

Pika Labs, which recently raised $55 million, also utilized Together’s GPU clusters to build a text-to-video model and train new iterations of the model from scratch for generating millions of videos per month.

Prakash emphasized that the company’s custom infrastructure enables them to offer significantly better economics. He stated that the Together platform allows developers to integrate leading open source models or create their own models through pre-training or fine-tuning. Customers choosing to bring their generative AI workloads to Together benefit from industry-leading performance and reliability, while retaining the freedom to run their model on any platform.

In addition to its cloud service, Together offers Custom Models, a consulting offering that allows customers to bring their own data to the Together cloud platform and work with Together’s team to design, build, and test a model.

The company is also actively involved in open source AI research, with projects such as RedPajama, aimed at fostering a set of open source generative AI models including “chat” models akin to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and the release of a fine-tuned version of Meta’s Llama 2 text-generating model, GPT-JT, and OpenChatKit, an equivalent of ChatGPT.

Investments in generative AI are on the rise, with IDC projecting an increase from $16 billion this year to $143 billion in 2027. Generative AI firms have attracted around 40% of all startup rounds, totaling $11.9 billion, in the first six months of 2023.

However, the future of generative AI is not guaranteed. Stability AI, once a prominent recipient of VC funding, is reportedly exploring a sale due to a lack of profits and worsening financial position.

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