AI Startup Imbue Tops $1 Billion Valuation After Funding from Nvidia

Imbue is focused on building custom AI agents capable of reasoning, with the goal of making users more productive.

(Bloomberg) — Imbue, a startup building large language models to power artificial intelligence tools, has raised $200 million from investors including Nvidia Corp. at a valuation of more than $1 billion.

Astera Institute, a nonprofit founded by cryptocurrency billionaire Jed McCaleb, led the funding round, with participation from others including Kyle Vogt, the chief executive officer of General Motors Co.’s self-driving unit Cruise, the company said Thursday. The amount is 10 times what the startup has already raised, it said. 

Imbue is one of a growing number of AI startups raising large rounds this year in a reflection of both the frenzy around the technology and the high costs associated with training AI models by feeding them vast troves of online data. OpenAI, Anthropic, Cohere and Inflection AI have each raised hundreds of millions or more to compete with bigger tech companies in developing and deploying new models. 

“Cash is much easier to come by than compute,” Imbue co-founder and CEO Kanjun Qiu said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “We managed to get our compute quite early because we saw this coming. We are very excited to have both.”

Imbue said it has secured access to 10,000 of Nvidia’s powerful graphic processing units, or GPUs, which can handle intensive computing tasks and are coveted by AI companies building large language models. Nvidia’s participation in the funding round was “all cash,” Qiu said. Forbes earlier reported news of the funding round.

Qiu previously launched Sourceress, an AI recruiting startup, and Ember Hardware, a virtual reality startup. The company is a rare AI unicorn, or startup with a valuation of more than $1 billion, to have a woman CEO.

Imbue, previously known as Generally Intelligent, is focused on building so-called AI agents capable of reasoning. “Ultimately, we hope to release systems that enable anyone to build robust, custom AI agents that put the productive power of AI at everyone’s fingertips,” the company wrote in a blog post Thursday announcing the round. 

While AI chatbots like ChatGPT have gained widespread attention, these tools can be limited by unreliable responses filled with inaccuracies and outright hallucinations. Some in the tech industry have set their sights on developing AI agents that can carry out a range of complex tasks on behalf of the user, whether it be conducting market research or ordering supplies. 

Qiu argued that improving an AI system’s reasoning capacity is central to building effective AI agents. “We build systems optimized for reasoning so that we can end up with AI that can actually help us do what we want and not just what we say,” Qiu said.

To achieve that, Imbue said in its blog that it is building massive AI models with “internal reasoning benchmarks” and prototyping agents internally. For now, however, the company is primarily working on AI agents that can code, a popular use case for other AI tools.

Imbue has previously raised funding from other notable names in tech, including Dropbox CEO Drew Houston.


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