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5 Apr, 2023
2 min time to read

Recently, a search startup secured $26 million in funding to introduce an AI-driven competitor to Google.

Perplexity AI, a start-up company based in the United States, has closed a Series A funding round led by New Enterprise Associates, one of the world's leading venture capital firms, with participation from Databricks Ventures and angel investors including former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman and Meta chief scientist Yann LeCun. The company, which bills itself as a "conversational search engine," raised an undisclosed sum of money to fund its expansion and growth plans, including optimizing its knowledge database.

Perplexity was founded in 2022 by four engineers with backgrounds in back-end systems, AI, and machine learning. Denis Yarats, a former staff machine learning engineer at Quora, joined Meta as an AI research scientist, while Aravind Srinivas, who interned at DeepMind and Google, later joined OpenAI as an AI researcher. Johnny Ho worked as an engineer at Quora and a quantitative trader on Wall Street, and Andy Konwinski was among the founding team at Databricks.

Unlike traditional search engines, Perplexity offers a chatbot-like interface that responds to natural language questions with answers and sources from around the web, allowing users to ask follow-up questions to dive deeper into topics. Users can type in any question in natural language, and Perplexity's AI will respond with accurate and relevant information, citing sites and sources from around the web. The founders of Perplexity claim that their technology performs better than other AI-powered chatbots, such as ChatGPT and Bing Chat, when it comes to accuracy.

In February 2023, Perplexity reported 10 million monthly visits and 2 million unique visitors. Although the company is far behind Google, which had an estimated 89 billion visits in May 2022, Perplexity is betting heavily on its AI technology to set it apart from the incumbents. Its mission is to build the world's most transparent information service and maximize the knowledge and productivity of the average consumer.

Perplexity released an iOS app in recent days that introduces features like user sign-in for personalization, persistent search history, and social sharing. The funds from the Series A will be put toward Perplexity's growth and expansion plans, including optimizing the application's knowledge database. The company is one of many startups in the generative AI space to receive significant investor attention in recent years. According to a PitchBook report released in March, VCs have steadily increased their positions in generative AI, from $408 million in 2018 to $4.8 billion in 2021 to $4.5 billion in 2022.