Sequoia, Nvidia Back Startup Fireworks AI at $552 Million Valuation

(Bloomberg) -- Startup Fireworks AI notched a valuation of $552 million in a funding round led by Sequoia Capital, a significant milestone for the two-year-old artificial intelligence company. 

Sequoia, along with investors including Nvidia Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and MongoDB Inc. put $52 million into the company in the funding round, brining its total cash haul to $77 million. 

Fireworks’ tools aim to make it easier for companies to adopt generative AI, allowing them to access more than 100 models using its platform. Most businesses don’t have a large team helping them incorporate AI into their workflows and processes, said the compay’s Chief Executive Officer Lin Qiao, but at the same time they want to adopt AI and keep up with the market.

Fireworks helps companies fine-tune and customize other models to address specific needs. It also has some proprietary models, pulled from open source technology like Meta’s LLama 3 and heavily customized. The startup’s customers include tech companies such as DoorDash Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.

Qiao co-founded the company in 2022 after spending years at Meta Platforms Inc., where she led PyTorch, an open source deep-learning framework. She believes that using a combination of AI systems is where the industry is headed. 

“A single model is not enough to solve business problems,” Qiao said in an interview. Fireworks focuses on smaller and open source models that are meant to take on specific business needs, and are easier to use and customize. 

“We want to use the funding to make a big shift toward a compound AI system that can orchestrate across multiple single models,” she said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. The AI tools could then access, for example, “the latest news from Bloomberg,” she said, “or my personal calendars or personal to do list, and view the totality of the great application experience.”

Fireworks uses models from companies including Stability AI, Meta and Mistral AI, and works with hardware and infrastructure providers like Nvidia, AMD and Amazon Web Services. The company plans to use the funding to expand its workforce, which is currently 27 employees, and plans to expand its partnerships with AI companies.

(Updates with context and quotes from TV interview starting in the fifth paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected funding data in the deck headline.)

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