3/1/2024

Startup Figure raised $675 million

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Key points:

  • Nvidia, Microsoft, and Amazon.com have invested in the robotics startup Figure.
  • The company’s AI models are based on OpenAI GPT to learn how to interact with people and perform tasks.
  • Language learning platform Duolingo also announced it was investing in AI, sending shares up more than 16%.

Robotics startup Figure said Thursday it has raised $675 million in funding from investors including heavy hitters Nvidia, Microsoft and Amazon.com.

Ambitious plans of the company

Located in Sunnyvale, California, Figure, a company specializing in robotics, has announced it has secured $100 million in funding. This investment will be used to further develop generative artificial intelligence for their humanoid robots, achieved through a collaborative agreement with OpenAI.

OpenAI’s launch of ChatGPT significantly fueled interest in the field of AI, prompting numerous companies to invest heavily in order to capitalize on this emerging trend. Figure’s funding round attracted participation from a diverse group of investors, including the OpenAI Startup Fund, Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund, Parkway Venture Capital, Intel Capital, Align Ventures, and ARK Invest.

According to Brett Adcock, Figure’s founder and CEO, the procured funds will be strategically allocated towards the development of more sophisticated language models specifically designed for robotics applications. Additionally, the company plans to expand production capabilities and bolster its workforce through new hires.

Figure will also be transitioning to Microsoft Azure for its artificial intelligence and training infrastructure needs. The AI models under development by Figure will leverage the latest OpenAI GPT models and undergo specialized training to enable their humanoid robots to engage in conversation and perform physical tasks.

The future of robots

A resurgence of investor interest has been observed in the field of humanoid robotics, fueled by advancements in artificial intelligence software that enhance the ability of robots to interact and collaborate with humans.

Last week, Bloomberg provided the first report of Figure’s successful fundraising effort, disclosing that Jeff Bezos, through his investment firm Explore Investments LLC, committed $100 million. Additionally, Microsoft pledged $95 million, while Nvidia and an Amazon subsidiary each contributed $50 million.

Furthermore, the company entered into a collaborative agreement with BMW Manufacturing last month, paving the way for the deployment of humanoid robots at the automaker’s US plant.

Duolingo is also investing in AI

Meanwhile, Duolingo, a platform specializing in language learning, experienced a significant surge in its stock price, exceeding 16% growth on Thursday. This positive performance coincided with the company’s revised financial forecast for 2024, which anticipates revenue exceeding initial expectations. This upward revision is attributed to the ongoing shift towards online learning methodologies and the strategic integration of artificial intelligence into the platform.

Should these positive earnings trends continue, Duolingo is projected to witness a market value increase of approximately $1.68 billion. As reported by LSEG, the company has revised its 2024 revenue forecast to fall within the range of $717.5 million and $729.5 million, surpassing the average analyst estimate of $699.3 million.

Furthermore, analysts acknowledge Duolingo’s effective utilization of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) within its offerings. Notably, the company introduced a new subscription tier, Duolingo Max, incorporating GenAI functionalities, in March of last year.

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