AI startup Hugging Face raises $235M from Google, Invidia, and Salesforce; now valued at $4.5 billion

AI startup Hugging Face announced on Thursday it has raised $235 million in Series D funding to ramp up its hiring efforts and further enhance its platform, which enables the machine learning community to collaborate on AI models, datasets, and applications.

The funding round was backed by tech giants including Google (under Alphabet), Invidia, and Salesforce. Notably, Amazon, IBM, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Qualcomm, and venture capital firm Sound Ventures—backed by Ashton Kutcher—also participated in this round.

The latest funding brings the company’s valuation to an impressive $4.5 billion, doubling the startup’s valuation from a year ago. In addition, the company also had a remarkable growth in its annualized revenue, which has surged by over 100-fold. This underscores the substantial demand for AI technologies and the platforms that foster their advancement.

Founded in 2016 by CEO Clément Delangue, a French entrepreneur, Julien Chaumond, and Thomas Wolf, the Brooklyn-based Hugging Face offers an open-source platform that empowers the creation of applications using machine learning technologies. The company, which currently boasts a workforce of 170 individuals, is poised to leverage this funding to drive its growth and innovation.

To date, Hugging Face has raised a total of $395.2 million in funding, positioning it as one of the well-capitalized players within the AI startup landscape. Ranking ahead are companies such as OpenAI (valued at $11.3 billion), Anthropic ($1.6 billion), Inflection AI ($1.5 billion), Cohere ($435 million), and Adept ($415 million).

In a statement, Delangue said: “AI is the new way of building all software. It’s the most important paradigm shift of the decade and, compared to the software shift, it’s going to be bigger because of new capabilities and faster because software paved the way.” He added that “Hugging Face intends to be the open platform that empowers this paradigm shift.”

Hugging Face’s new funding also highlights the ongoing trend of billions of investments being poured into the generative AI space as investors look for the next big winner. Since late last year, there’s been a growing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) following the sudden success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

AI has garnered considerable attention as the next frontier in technology, and this sector has already secured an impressive $25 billion in investments during the first part of this year. Notably, a substantial $10 billion of this funding was channeled into OpenAI by Microsoft.

In the wake of OpenAI’s widely acclaimed chatbot, ChatGPT, other AI startups have also seen success in fundraising endeavors. Inflection AI, supported by Microsoft, and Runway, backed by Google, are among these ventures that have managed to secure funding.

This intensified competition among major tech players has bolstered the prospects of Nvidia, whose chip designs play a pivotal role in powering generative AI technologies like ChatGPT.