Toronto-based startup Cohere is among the first four companies to receive funding from Salesforce Ventures’ newly-launched $250 million fund as part of a broader play into generative artificial intelligence (AI).
On Tuesday, Salesforce’s investment arm announced a $250 million generative AI fund to invest in startups and “spark the development of responsible generative AI.”
Cohere will be partnering with Salesforce to bring the Toronto startup’s technology to Salesforce’s enterprise customers.
The fund is initially investing in four startups, with Cohere being the only Canadian. The other investments include United States technology companies Anthropic, Hearth.AI, and You.com.
Earlier this year, Reuters reported that Cohere is in talks to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in a funding round that could value the startup at more than $6 billion. It remains unclear how much Cohere is seeking to raise in the current funding round. Cohere has raised $170 million to date, comprising a $125 million USD Series B round last year and $40 million USD in Series A financing in 2021.
Co-founded by Aidan Gomez (CEO), Ivan Zhang, and Nick Frosst in 2019, Cohere provides access to large language models and natural language processing (NLP) tools through one API. Its platform can be used to generate or analyze text to do things like write copy, moderate content, classify data, and extract information.
According to Salesforce, each recipient of the initial investments it made for generative AI demonstrated an ability to meaningfully transform application software and impact end users’ workflows using responsible and trusted development processes.
Gomez said that Cohere will be partnering with Salesforce to bring the Toronto startup’s technology to Salesforce’s enterprise customers.
Including its partnership with Cohere, Salesforce’s latest investments into its generative AI strategy comes amid an increasing number of corporations quickly integrating generative AI technology within their products. Centered in this next generation of AI applications is OpenAI’s ChatGPT platform, which was confirmed to receive a $10 billion investment from Microsoft earlier this year.
Unlike ChatGPT, which was launched in November 2022 and open to the public, Cohere claims it focuses on developers and businesses to help them generate and organize text on a larger scale.
In addition to the launch of its generative AI fund, Salesforce also announced the launch of EinsteinGPT, which consolidates Salesforce’s existing AI models with generative AI technology from partners, including OpenAI.
Salesforce-owned Slack also announced an integration with ChatGPT, allowing its users to send automated replies to colleagues.
Salesforce launched its investment arm in 2009 to fund and partner with companies with the aim of expanding its platform’s features. Through its impact fund, Salesforce also aims to invest in companies addressing “some of today’s most pressing needs,” including education and reskilling, climate action, diversity, equity and inclusion, and providing tech for nonprofits and foundations.
In 2018, Salesforce launched a $100 million Canada Trailblazer Fund dedicated to investing in Canadian startups.