Top ex-Google AI researchers get financing from Thrive Capital: Sources

Two renowned former Google researchers who published the seminal article that cleared the way for the generative AI boom, have raised $8 million for their new business Essential AI, four sources told Reuters.

Thrive Capital has led the investment in Essential AI, created by Ashish Vaswani and Niki Parmar. The firm is currently in stealth mode and hasn't introduced any product. Conviction and angel investor Elad Gil also joined in the round, one person close to the firm stated.

Thrive Capital, established by Joshua Kushner, is also an investor in Microsoft-backed OpenAI.

Essential AI wants to produce software for organizations to leverage huge language models, the fundamental software of a new artificial intelligence system that has driven generative AI applications such as ChatGPT, sources said.

Thrive Capital refused to respond. Vaswani and Parmar didn't reply to several requests for comment.

The rise occurred after Vaswani and Parmar departed Adept AI, a business they both co-founded in 2021 with former Google director David Luan. Adept, focused on training a neural network to execute common tasks for corporate customers, has secured $415 million from investors including common Catalyst. EssentialAI is not in direct rivalry with Adept, sources noted.

Vaswani and Parmar are the first and third authors on Google's 2017 research paper "Attention Is All You Need", which unveiled the "transformer" deep learning architecture that went on to become the foundation for viral chatbot ChatGPT and the current race to produce products powered by generative AI.

The two join other writers on the renowned paper who have left Google to create their own firms and subsequently earned millions in financing from venture capitalists, including Noam Shazeer, who is leading AI chatbot company Character.AI, and Aidan Gomez, who built massive language model firm Cohere.