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AI21 secures $64M in funding as NLP market grows

AI21 Labs is now worth $664 million. Its growth shows the demand for more language models and tools despite the dominance of models like OpenAI's GPT-3, GPT-J and GPT-Neo.

AI vendor AI21 Labs is now valued at $664 million as it seeks to compete with OpenAI.

The natural language processing (NLP) vendor revealed on July 12 that it secured $64 million in Series B funding.

The vendor, based in Tel Aviv, said it will use the new funding to expand its team and build out its technology.

AI21 competitiveness

As a player in the NLP market, AI21 offers a natural language processing-as-a-service platform where developers can purchase pretrained and custom language models. The vendor is also known for its natural language processing program Jurassic-X, which rivals the OpenAI GPT-language model.

Jurassic-X is a modular reasoning, knowledge and language system that is more advanced than AI21's mega language model Jurassic-1 and other language models because it can read and update databases in common language and perform simple and complex math operations, according to AI21.

The vendor says enterprises can use the system to solve math and technical problems that are phrased in simple language. This is useful for enterprises that have chatbots on their website or need other AI-generated text assistants in their business.

Enterprises can use Jurassic-X to stay up to date on current affairs. For example, they can use Jurassic-X to plug into resources such as Wikidata and use it to stay updated about changes going on in the world, according to AI21.

Last month, AI21 revealed that Jurassic-X powers the vendor's AI model of the mind of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, trained on the late justice's speech, interviews and opinions.

"AI21 is building state-of-the-art pretrained and custom language models that are on par with the demand from the industry for more pretrained language models," said Ronald Schmelzer, an analyst at Cognilytica.

Growth of NLP

There is a growing market for NLP models and tools sparked by the release of OpenAI GPT-3, and alternatives such as the open source GPT-J and GPT-Neo models from EleutherAI and other natural language systems, Schmelzer noted.

NLP will continue to expand, even if AI as a whole hits a speed bump in terms of general adoption.
Ronald SchmelzerAnalyst, Cognilytica

The NLP market is expected to grow to $48.46 billion by 2027, according to a report from Fior Markets.

"The NLP part of AI is definitely a hot space," Schmelzer said. "The market for models and tools to build those models is pretty hot. NLP will continue to expand, even if AI as a whole hits a speed bump in terms of general adoption."

However, not everyone can create tools or models like GPT-3, said Constellation Research analyst Andy Thurai. Some enterprises may be hesitant to use GPT-3 because of OpenAI's relationship with Microsoft Azure, especially if the organization chooses not to use Azure Cloud.

AI21 may be an alternative for enterprises because the vendor claims its mega language model Jurassic-1 has 178 billion parameters compared to GPT-3's 175 billion, Thurai noted.

Including the latest funding round, AI21 has raised a total of $118 million.

The funding round was led by deep tech and deep science investment firm Ahren and included participation from Walden Catalyst, TPY Capital and Mark Leslie.

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