AI21 Labs, a startup formed by veterans from an elite tech unit in the IDF to build AI systems, announced on Thursday it raised $34.5 million in total equity capital to work on its AI-based writing solutions and offerings.
The funding includes a seed round of $9.5 million in January 2019 and the latest round of $25 million led by Pitango First, the seed and early-stage fund of Pitango’s investment platform.
Pitango is Israel’s largest venture capital fund and was co-founded by Chemi Peres, the son of former president Shimon Peres. The VC focuses on core technologies like deep tech, AI, and machine learning.
Other investors in the latest funding round included TPY Capital, another VC headquartered in Tel Aviv.
AI21 Labs was founded in 2018 by some of Israel’s leading minds in AI including co-CEO Yoav Shoham, a Stanford professor emeritus and serial entrepreneur who previously sold two companies to Google; Ori Goshen, a former member of the famed 8200 tech unit of the IDF and a repeat entrepreneur; and Amnon Shashua, professor at the Hebrew University and founder and CEO of Mobileye, acquired by Intel, and OrCam. Additional leading AI professors from around the world also serve AI21 Labs in various capacities.
The company employs about 40 people in Israel. In late October, it emerged from stealth mode to launch its first product, Wordtune, the first AI-based writing companion that understands context and meaning. Wordtune is the only product built with deep-AI that captures thoughts, and offers ways to translate them into quality text, so that the writing is authentic, clear and compelling.
“We’re just getting started on our mission to create AI solutions that will help rethink how we read and write,” said Shoham, “We’ve got the team and we’ve got the vision to play in an area traditionally dominated by the tech giants, coupling deep technical innovation with compelling product experiences.”
“AI21 Labs is a great company with an insanely strong team,” added Eyal Niv of Pitango. “They are focused on creating AI solutions that can be as transformative to human communication as the Gutenberg press. That’s a mission we want to support and play a role in.”