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NVIDIA’s AI portfolio surge: Humanoids to GenAI for enterprises, here are all startups backed by the chipmaker

NVIDIA backed startups

NVIDIA, known for producing computer chips geared towards graphics and gaming, has undergone a significant shift in focus. Today, the company dominates the market for chips used in AI systems. It has expanded globally, with a focus on AI technology, developing graphics processing units (GPUs) tailored for deep learning and AI applications, driving advancements in AI research. 

Moving beyond its contributions to traditional chipmaking in the technology sector, NVIDIA has become a major player in AI investments. Facilitating this is NVentures, NVIDIA’s dedicated venture capital arm, working in tandem with its corporate development team to curate a robust portfolio featuring prominent AI entities like Databricks and Cohere

Recently, NVIDIA achieved a valuation of $2 trillion trailing behind Saudi Aramco, Microsoft, and Apple. Also, this makes it the third American company to enter the $2 trillion club. This is an impact of its AI-focused ventures and market leadership.

In addition to this, Nvidia continues breaking records and fuelling the AI stock market rally and has reported better-than-expected Q4 2024 results and added over $400 billion to its stock value in just a month. In the three months ending January 29, 2024, Nvidia grossed $22.1 billion, $2 billion more than expected and 265% more than in the same period a year ago. The triple-digit revenue growth has helped the company add hundreds of billions of dollars to its stock value in just a month.

As per reports, NVIDIA invested in 35 companies in 2023, showcasing a substantial increase from the previous year. Reportedly, Nvidia’s annual year-on-year investing has ballooned to a whopping 280% in 2023. Now, we have listed interesting AI investments made by the chip maker as per Dealroom

Figure AI – Humanoid robots 

5 things you should know about Figure AI: From latest funding to ethical consideration
Image credit:

Founder/s: Brett Adcock
Founded year: 2022
Total funding: $754M

California-based Figure, an AI robotics company has developed a general-purpose robot dubbed Figure 01, which resembles a human and moves like one. As per the company, this robot can be used in manufacturing, shipping and logistics, warehousing, and retail industries that face the brunt of severe labour shortages. 

The company also released a video showing its humanoid robot in action. The video showed the robot attached to a tether walking on two legs, and using its hands to pick up a plastic crate, and placing the box on a conveyor belt after walking some more steps.

Earlier this month, the company raised $675 million in Series B funding at a valuation of $2.6 billion. In addition to NVIDIA, the round witnessed contributions from Microsoft, OpenAI Startup Fund, Jeff Bezos through Bezos Expeditions, Parkway Venture Capital, Intel Capital, Align Ventures, and ARK Invest. The fresh funds will accelerate Figure’s timeline for humanoid commercial deployment.

AI21 Labs – Gen AI pioneer 

AI21 founders
Picture credits: AI21

Founder/s: Amnon Shasuha, Yoav Shoham, Ori Goshen
Founded year: 2017
Total funding: $327M

AI21 Labs, a company with its roots in Tel Aviv, Israel, was one of the first to bring generative AI to the masses. Its unique approach goes beyond models, building AI systems that are easy to integrate and that generate reliable, trustworthy, and accurate results with more refined control than any standalone existing model. With the developer platform AI21 Studio, businesses can build their own generative AI-driven applications and services. 

Late in 2023, the Israeli unicorn AI21 completed the $208 million Series C funding round at a valuation of $1.4 billion. Before this, the company raised $155 million in the Series C round. The most recent round saw participation from additional new investors, including NVIDIA, Intel Capital, and Comcast Ventures, the venture capital arm of Comcast Corporation, alongside previous investors. 

Perplexity AI – ChatGPT alternative 

Perplexity AI
Picture credits: Perplexity AI

Founder/s: Arvind Srinivas, Dennis Yarats, Johnny Ho, Andy Konwinski
Founded year: 2022
Total funding: $99.2M

Yet another US-based company backed by the tech giant is Perplexity AI harnesses the power of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 language model, enabling nuanced understanding and generation of text. Unlike some AI models that prioritise generative text, this company focuses on delivering accurate, sourced information, making it a reliable research assistant. The platform indexes a vast array of internet content, meticulously sorting through data to ensure the relevancy and reliability of its responses. Each answer comes with cited sources, enabling users to verify facts, a feature especially crucial for academic research and journalism.

Earlier this year, Perplexity AI snapped $73.6 million in a Series B funding round. The investment came from NVIDIA alongside IVP, NEA, Bessemer Ventures and Kindred Ventures. 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 participated in the round that valued the company at $520 million.

Essential AI – builds Enterprise Brain

Essential AI funding
Picture credits: Essential AI

Founder/s: Ashish Vaswani, Niki Parmar
Founded year: 2022
Total funding: $64.8M

California-headquartered Essential AI, a startup founded by two authors of the Google research paper, aims to leverage AI for corporate applications like data analysis, and automating mundane tasks. They are creating smart AI tools that learn fast and help with monotonous tasks, making work easier and faster. By combining human input and clever technology, Essential AI’s tools will let users tackle more challenging jobs and develop important skills. It helps business users become independent data-driven decision makers themselves.

In December last year, Essential AI secured $56.5 million from NVIDIA and other investors, including March Capital, AMD, Franklin Venture Partners, Google, KB Investment, and Thrive Capital. 

Hugging Face – GitHub for AI

Hugging Face Founders
Photo credits: Hugging Face

Founder/s: Clement Delangue, Julien Chaumond, Thomas Wolf
Founded year: 2016
Total funding: $396M

Yet another AI startup based out of the US is Hugging Face. The company offers several data science hosting and development tools, including a GitHub-like hub for AI code repositories, models and datasets, and web apps to demo AI-powered applications. It also provides libraries for tasks like dataset processing and evaluating models in addition to an enterprise version of the hub that supports SaaS and on-premises deployments.

Last year, Hugging Face secured $235 million in Series D funding from NVIDIA, Google, Amazon, Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, IBM, Salesforce and Sound Ventures. This round values the company at $4.5 billion. Before this round, it secured $100 million in Series C funding

Mistral AI – a young French unicorn 

Mistral-ai close to securing 450 Euros funding
Picture credits: Mistral AI

Founder/s: Arthur Mensch, Timothée Lacroix, Guillaume Lample
Founded year: 2023
Total funding: $553M

At a time when AI has emerged as a prominent buzzword in the business world, a young French generative AI unicorn Mistral AI has gained traction. It is an advanced AI technology specialising in processing and generating human-like text. Mistral offers several models for free use under a fully permissive license. Mistral AI can grasp the nuances of language, context, and even emotions. In addition to helping in content creation, the company uses chatbots to enhance customer support and offers personalised learning materials. 

In a short period, the company secured over $500 million in two investment rounds, valuing it at $2 billion. The latest round of €450 million closed in December last year came from NVIDIA, Andreessen Horowitz, and Salesforce. Before this, the company secured $113 million in June last year. This funding boost will fuel Mistral AI’s ambitious growth plans, empowering the company to expand its team, enhance its research and development efforts, and bring its innovative generative AI solutions to market.

Synthesia –  gen AI for enterprises

Synthesia AI founders
Picture credits: Synthesia AI

Founder/s: Lourdes Agapito, Matthias Niessner, Steffen Tjerrild, Victor Riperbelli
Founded year: 2017
Total funding: $156M

UK-based Generative AI firm Synthesia produces enterprise videos, including workplace training and corporate presentations. The AI video creation tool creates videos from plain text. Users can make polished video presentations in-browser with no professional expertise required from just text. Its technology helps over 50,000 businesses, including Amazon in creating custom AI avatars used in instructional and corporate videos.

As per the company, users can make polished video presentations in-browser with no professional expertise required from just text. Its technology helps over 50,000 businesses, including Amazon in creating custom AI avatars used in instructional and corporate videos.

Last year, Synthesia, snapped $90 million in a Series C funding round from NVIDIA alongside Accel, which is the lead investor, and others such as Kleiner Perkins, GV, and Firstmark Capital. With this round, the company attained unicorn status with a $1 billion valuation.

Skydio – self-flying drone unicorn

Picture credits: Skydio

Founder/s: Abraham Bachrach, Adam Bry, Matt Donahoe
Founded year: 2014
Total funding: $571M

A drone tech company headquartered in California, Skydio, delivers autonomous drones powered by the best AI in the sky for exceptional data capture. After launching the self-flying X2 model aimed at government and military use, a few months back, Skydio announced that it will create drones for use by commercial businesses and the public sector. Besides its drones, the company revealed its 72-pound motorised dock to let companies and agencies remotely control, charge, and protect their drones without a nearby human. 

Last year, Skydio grabbed $230 million from NVIDIA alongside lead investor Linse Capital and others such as Andreessen Horowitz, Next47, IVP, DoCoMo, the Walton Family Foundation and UP.Partners. With this round, the drone tech company reached a valuation of $2.2 billion.

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