The founders of AI21 Labs. Left to right: Yoav Shoham, Ori Goshen and Amnon Shashua. Photo via AI21 Labs.

OpenAI Challenger AI21 Labs Nears Funding at $1.2 Billion Valuation

Photo: The founders of AI21 Labs. Left to right: Yoav Shoham, Ori Goshen and Amnon Shashua. Photo via AI21 Labs.

AI21 Labs, an Israel-based rival to OpenAI, has neared a new round of funding that would value the six-year-old startup at $1.2 billion, before the new capital, according to two people familiar with the matter. It’s the latest sign of investor appetite for firms developing conversational artificial intelligence as the technology becomes a material business for OpenAI.

Two of the startup’s existing investors, Walden Catalyst and Israeli firm Pitango, have been in talks to lead the new funding, which would be at least $150 million, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. The investors would be paying for the shares at a valuation that’s at least 20 times the startup’s projected revenue for this year, a lower valuation multiple than for deals involving other AI startups with similar revenue.

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