Perplexity AI: A Startup Backed by Billion-Dollar Investors

The company was first founded in 2022 by co-founding quartet, Aravind Srinivas, Johnny Ho, Denis Yarats and Andy Konwinski
The company was first founded in 2022 by co-founding quartet, Aravind Srinivas, Johnny Ho, Denis Yarats and Andy Konwinski
Perplexity AI continues to garner much interest, with its conversational search engine offering personalised answers, citations and advanced research

Within less than two years of being launched, interest in Perplexity AI has exploded.

An AI chatbot-powered research engine, it is a conversational search AI model that is designed to answer queries using natural language predictive text. It continues to generate answers for users using web-based sources, but also boasts the unique function of citing the webpage links it is generating its answers from.

As a whole, the company models itself as an alternative to traditional search engines. Whereas normally, users can directly pose questions and receive concise answers, Perplexity has a conversational interface with a wide contextual awareness and personalisation to learn the user’s interests and preferences over time.

At the start of 2024, Perplexity AI was valued at US$500m - a figure that has now grown substantially - and now holds more than 10 million active users.

Company history: Powering the next wave of AI innovation

The company was first founded in 2022 by co-founding quartet, Aravind Srinivas, Johnny Ho, Denis Yarats and Andy Konwinski. The founders come from a range of engineering and back-end systems backgrounds, with CEO Aravind Srinivas having previously worked at OpenAI as an AI researcher.

Likewise, Denis Yarats, the CTO, was an AI research scientist at Meta, Chief Strategy Officer Johnny Ho worked as an engineer at Quora, alongside Andy Konwinski who was on the founding team at Databricks.

Perplexity AI has propelled to chatbot stardom in recent months. As of 2024, the company has raised US$165m million in funding, valuing the company at over US$1bn. Prominent investors into Perplexity include the likes of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Nvidia, Databricks and one of the so-called godfathers of AI, Yann LeCun, among others.

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Such investment has led the chatbot service to become one of the most reliable worldwide. Having launched a world-first fully functional conversational answer engine, its ability to answer queries and citations seek to provide a more comprehensive overview for the user, tailoring its responses the more it is used.

Described by the company CEO itself as being “like ChatGPT and Wikipedia [had] a baby”, the company maintains its ethos that searching for information should be a straightforward and efficient process that is free from the influence of advertising-driven models. This has quickly led it to become a valuable tool for research and fact-checking.

Enhancing creativity and innovation

Perplexity AI also leverages the power of multiple large language models (LLMs), including GPT-4, Claude and Mistral, in addition to its own proprietary models. This means that users of Perplexity AI can choose the best model for their specific requirements and compare responses across the different results.

One of the main benefits that using multiple language models can afford is that it can often enhance the quality, scope and impact of the research. Perplexity AI is able to excel at research tasks with its ability to offer context-aware answers that are supported by academic sources.

Arguably, this could mean that businesses and researchers can analyse data from a broad range of sources and uncover greater insights. This unique approach could lead to a user gaining a competitive advantage, which is particularly poignant during a time where businesses are seeking to get ahead in the global AI race.

Moving forward, Perplexity AI is keen to get ahead, positioning itself as a leading AI-based search engine that will only continue to learn.

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