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‘He Doesn’t Need VC in His Life’: How Midjourney’s Founder Built an AI Winner While Rejecting Venture Capital

David Holz has become an ‘AI celebrity’ by generating over $200 million in revenues with just 40 employees—all without raising a cent from outside investors.

Midjourney CEO David Holz has bucked the tide among AI founders by boxing out venture capitalists. Midjourney art by Clark Miller
Midjourney CEO David Holz has bucked the tide among AI founders by boxing out venture capitalists. Midjourney art by Clark Miller
Sept. 5, 2023 6:15 AM PDT

Ever since David Holz founded Midjourney in mid-2021, venture capitalists have been practically begging him to take their money.

On top of cold-calling and emailing Holz incessantly, some have asked his inner circle for “warm” introductions. Others have preemptively sent him term sheets. A lucky few have landed meetings with the 35-year-old CEO of Midjourney, which uses machine-learning models to generate uncanny, hyperrealistic images. Index Ventures partner Mike Volpi scored a dinner with Holz at rustic Italian cafe Cotogna in San Francisco last year, “but he was pretty straightforward in his intention to not raise money,” said Volpi.

By adamantly (if politely) rejecting the advances of venture capitalists, Holz has bucked the tide among artificial intelligence startups, the top tier of which has raised more than $17 billion in fresh capital in recent years, according to The Information’s Generative AI database. Holz has also succeeded in making Midjourney a source of intense intrigue in VC land, where the company’s profitability and astronomical growth have enticed investors.

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