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Jeff Bezos invests in this AI-powered search engine startup: A Chat GPT and Google cross now valued at $520M

Perplexity AI
Picture credits: Perplexity AI

A number of technology behemoths, including Google, have been exploring ways to incorporate GenAI into their operations. At the same time, new businesses are endeavouring to revolutionise AI-powered search entirely. While competing with established giants boasting billions of users may appear daunting, these up-and-coming companies believe they can distinguish themselves by providing a superior user experience.

One such startup is California-headquartered Perplexity AI, which aims to reinvent knowledge discovery with an AI-native search engine. The company just snapped $73.6 million in a Series B funding round. The investment came from IVP, which backed Volt with participation from tech giants like NEA, Databricks, Nvidia, Bessemer Ventures (backed Upvest and Qogita recently) and Kindred Ventures.

In addition to these investors, several tech visionaries also joined the list of backers, including Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos, former X VP Elad Gil, GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, and Vercel founder Guillermo Rauch. With this investment, Perplexity AI is now reportedly valued at $520 million. 

Perplexity AI plans to use the capital to build out its AI-driven search engine offering and take on heavyweights Google and Microsoft in the age of generative AI and large language models (LLM).

What makes this AI-powered search engine unique?

Perplexity AI was founded by former Google researchers Arvind Srinivas, Dennis Yarats, Johnny Ho, and Andy Konwinski with engineering backgrounds in AI, distributed systems, search engines, and databases. Srinivas, the CEO of Perplexity, has previous experience at OpenAI. Is Perplecity similar to ChatGPT? Well, the primary distinction between Perplexity AI and ChatGPT lies in their nature: ChatGPT functions as a language model, whereas Perplexity AI integrates both ChatGPT and the Google search engine.

The platform’s AI responds with summaries containing source citations such as websites and articles, at which point users can ask follow-up questions to delve deeper into a particular topic.

Unlike traditional search engines, Perplexity provides a chatbot-like interface that allows users to ask questions in natural language like “Do we burn calories while we sleep?”, “What is the least visited country?”, etc. 

The company has a free version of its platform where users can find information using their default model. For more features, there’s a Pro version for $20/month. It lets them access Perplexity API credits for using advanced language models in projects, and get unlimited support for querying with Perplexity Copilot, the company’s interactive research assistant. Also, you can also switch models such as Google’s Gemini, Mistra 7Bl, Anthropic’s Claude 2.1 and OpenAI’s GPT-4. 

The Perplexity Copilot considers personal preferences during searches and file uploads, which allows users to upload documents, including images and have models analyse the docs to formulate answers about them.

“In an era where misinformation and AI hallucinations are causing increasing concern, we’re built on the idea that accuracy and transparency are prerequisites to making AI-powered search ubiquitous. The times of sifting through SEO spam, sponsored links, and multiple web pages will be replaced by a much more efficient way to consume and share information, propelling our society into a new era of accelerated learning and research,” said Aravind Srinivas, co-founder and CEO of Perplexity.

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