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Replicate Inc. Exits Stealth with $17.8M in Funding for AI Platform

Replicate Inc. Emerges from Stealth Mode with $17.8M in Funding, Launches Platform for AI Application Development

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Replicate Inc., a startup that makes it easier for software teams to build artificial intelligence applications, has exited stealth mode and announced it has secured $17.8 million in funding. The company raised the capital over two rounds, with $12.5 million coming from a Series A investment led by Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and Sequoia Capital, as well as several angel investors including Figma CEO Dylan Field and Vercel’s Guillermo Rauch. The startup also previously closed a $5.3 million seed round.

Replicate offers a platform that reduces manual work for software teams, allowing developers to deploy AI models with a few lines of code. The company’s platform promises to help bridge the gap between software engineers and machine learning engineers. According to CEO Ben Firshman, there are roughly two orders of magnitude more software engineers than there are machine learning engineers (~30 million vs. ~500,000). By building good tools, Replicate believes it’s possible for software engineers to use machine learning in the same way they use normal software.

One of the key features of the platform is its collection of several thousand open-source AI models that can perform a variety of tasks, including generating images and translating text. The platform also works with custom neural networks that companies develop in-house. Neural networks are often deployed with auxiliary components such as PyTorch and TensorFlow, and in many cases, developers also add more specialized components such as Nvidia Corp.’s CUDA toolkit, which is used to optimize the performance of AI models deployed on Nvidia chips.

The platform eases the task of deploying AI models in production. After developers package a neural network into a container, Replicate can automatically deploy it on a managed cloud environment. The environment automatically adds and removes hardware resources as graphics cards based on usage.

Replicate’s user base has been expanding at a 149% month-over-month growth rate since mid-2021. Its enterprise customers include, Labelbox, and Unsplash.

Replicate’s co-founders are Ben Firshman, who led open source product efforts at Docker, and Andreas Jansson, previously a machine learning engineer at Spotify. Firshman and Jansson created an open-source tool called Cog that lets developers package machine learning models in a standard, production-ready container format. Cog runs on any newer macOS, Linux, or Windows 11 machine.

AI-powered applications are often deployed on graphics cards, which can complicate infrastructure management tasks. Replicate’s platform promises to ease these tasks for software teams and facilitate the development of AI applications. The startup is competing with vendors including Hugging Face and OctoML, which have collectively raised hundreds of millions in venture capital. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft could also be considered rivals, as they offer their own solutions for developing, launching, and maintaining machine learning models in the cloud.

“We’re making it possible for software engineers to use machine learning with zero experience, with just a few lines of code, so they can build products with AI and apply it to business problems,” said Firshman.

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