Cohere raises $40 million USD to make natural language processing more accessible

Toronto-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup Cohere, which provides natural language processing (NLP) models, has secured $40 million USD ($50.4 million CAD) in Series A financing.

The round, which closed this summer, was led by Index Ventures, and saw participation from Section 32, return investor Radical Ventures, as well as several AI experts, including Turing Award winner Geoffrey Hinton, Fei-Fei Li, Pieter Abbeel, and Raquel Urtasun, who recently launched her own AI startup. It brings Cohere’s total funding to date to about $50 million USD ($63 million CAD). As part of the round, Mike Volpi, partner at Index Ventures, is joining Cohere’s board.

“We look forward to working with Cohere as they democratize access to one of the most important technologies of our time.”

Cohere, which was founded by two former Google Brain researchers and a founding engineer of Cortex, emerged from stealth in May. Now, armed with fresh funding, Cohere plans to grow its team and accelerate the adoption of its NLP-focused software platform, as the Toronto firm looks to make NLP accessible to more businesses.

“Cohere’s deep technical expertise makes them the perfect team to bring NLP to the global marketplace,” said Mike Volpi, co-founder of Index Ventures. “We look forward to working with Cohere as they democratize access to one of the most important technologies of our time.”

Co-founded by Ivan Zhang, Aidan Gomez, and Nick Frosst in 2019, Cohere claims its API enables companies to deploy NLP capabilities across their businesses without requiring supercomputing infrastructure or AI expertise, which it says “radically reduces the cost for companies of all sizes to access leading AI models.”

Cohere’s API is powered by NLP models that have read “hundreds of millions of web pages and learned to understand the meaning, sentiment and tone of the words we use.”

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According to The Globe and Mail, Gomez and Frosst both previously worked with Hinton, and met while working at Google Brain, a deep learning AI research team under Google AI’s umbrella.

In 2017, Gomez, Cohere’s CEO, co-authored “Attention is All You Need,” a paper that introduced the “transformer” architecture behind Cohere’s platform.

According to The Globe, Cohere has partnered with three North American companies to date to develop its tech, including Toronto AI chatbot startup Ada, which recently achieved unicorn status, and plans to begin offering access to general users this week.

Cohere currently has around 40 employees, and plans to use the new capital to help grow its engineering and sales teams.

Feature image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit staff writer who loves to tell Canadian business and tech stories. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.