Toronto-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup Ideogram, which offers generative text-to-image technology, has launched its platform with $22.3 million CAD ($16.5 million USD) in seed funding.
American venture-capital (VC) firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Index Ventures led the round, with participation from AIX Ventures, Golden Ventures, and Two Small Fish Ventures.
Ideogram said it has a focus on creativity with a “high standard for trust and safety.”
Canadian computer science professor and Waabi founder Raquel Urtasun also invested in Ideogram’s seed round, as did Conviction founder Sarah Guo and Github co-founder Tom Preston-Werner, among others.
Ideogram’s founding team consists of people who have previously led AI projects at Google Brain, UC Berkeley, and the University of Toronto. Its CEO Mohammad Norouzi, for example, was a senior staff research scientist at Google.
Norouzi worked on Google’s text-to-image system Imagen, among a number of other AI initiatives, with fellow Ideogram co-founders Chitwan Saharia, William Chan, and Jonathan Ho.
Now working on Ideogram, the team said its mission is to help people become more creative through generative AI by developing tools that will make creative expression more accessible. Its text-to-image platform launched today, offering similar capabilities to OpenAI’s DALL-E image-generation platform.
Users are asked to sign up with an email address to use the platform. After login, they can use Ideogram to type in their prompt and select a number of rendering styles like anime, dark fantasy, or graffiti to generate an image.
Similar to other AI art generators, images created via Ideogram generate compelling but flawed images. The featured image for this story was generated using the prompt “Racoon wearing a Toronto Raptors jersey in Toronto,” with cinematic 3D rendering. Instead, it generated a raccoon wearing an “IAPTOD” jersey that resembles the Raptors’ team branding. Eagle-eyed readers may notice the two CN towers in the background.
Though generative AI platforms claim to help accelerate the creative process for artists, many have also raised serious concerns about the technology.
Earlier this year, AI art generators Stable Diffusion and Midjourney were hit with a lawsuit over allegations that they have infringed the intellectual-property rights of artists by training their AI tools on five billion images scraped from the web without consent.
For its part, Ideogram notes on its website that it has a focus on creativity with a “high standard for trust and safety.”
Ideogram is currently hiring for several roles in engineering, research, design, and operations in Toronto.
Feature image courtesy generative AI and a Charlize Alcaraz prompt: “Racoon wearing a Toronto Raptors jersey in Toronto.”