French start-up Mistral AI, without any product, managed to raise 105 million euros to challenge OpenAI, Google and Meta

Mistral AI, a French start-up specializing in artificial intelligence, raised 105 million euros without a product on the market. Its founders, from DeepMind and Meta, plan to develop open source language models, using only public data.

The world of language models is dominated by tech giants OpenAI (GPT, ChatGPT), Microsoft (Bing), Google (BERT, LaMDA, Bard), and Meta (LLaMa). However, a new French start-up, Mistral AI, is looking to disrupt this dynamic.

This start-up, created by eminent figures in the field of artificial intelligence, announced on Tuesday that it had raised 105 million euros, a record for a French AI start-up. This accomplishment puts the value of Mistral at 240 million euros.

Without a product, but with a plan

Although Mistral AI has not launched any products yet, the company has ambitious plans to build open-source language models, the first of which will be available in early 2024.

How did this young company manage to raise such a colossal sum without having yet put a product on the market? The answer lies in the talents of its three founders. Arthur Mensch, one of them, is a former researcher at DeepMind, a leading AI company acquired by Google in 2014 and recently merged with Google Brain. The other two founders, Guillaume Lample and Timothée Lacroix, are former employees of Meta, where they also worked on AI.

The 105 million euros raised will be used to train the language models, an undertaking that requires the acquisition of large amounts of public data, a process that can be expensive. However, this amount pales in comparison to the billions of dollars that American giants spend on their AI projects.

A different approach

Mistral has made the strategic choice to only use publicly available data to train its models, which should allow it to avoid possible legal problems such as those encountered by other companies that use different types of content to training. Additionally, users will have the ability to provide their own datasets. In an industry where the lack of transparency is often criticized, Mistral stands out for its promise to make everything open source.

The benefits of using open source may outweigh the potential for misuseMensch told TechCrunch.

A wind of change

The name “Mistral”, borrowed from a strong Mediterranean wind, symbolizes the ambition of this French start-up to vigorously shake up a market hitherto dominated by American and Chinese companies. Like the eponymous wind that sweeps away everything in its path, Mistral AI hopes to disrupt the language model industry and establish a strong presence for Europe in this field.

Europe has often been left behind in the global AI race. Mistral AI represents a new chance for the continent to take part in this technological revolution. It is a welcome wind of change, a wind of competition and innovation that could finally move Europe forward in the field of AI. This record fundraising and the impressive pedigree of its founders make Mistral AI a company to watch closely. The race for AI has only just begun.

*Thank you Grégoire for this pun

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