February 21, 2024

It’s a big day for generative AI funding.

Following a $1.3 billion investment in Inflection AI, tracka startup building generative artificial intelligence tools for multimedia content creators, announced today that it has raised $141 million in Series C funding from companies including Google, Nvidia, and Salesforce.

Building on the company’s Series C round announced in December, the new funds will be used to expand its in-house research efforts and expand Runway’s headcount, Runway said.

“We’re focused on how we can continue to push the boundaries of creativity,” Runway CEO Cris Valenzuela told TechCrunch via email. “The additional funding allows us to double down on our efforts to innovate new tools for artists and creators.”

Runway was founded in 2018 by Valenzuela, Alejandro Matamala and Anastasis Germanidis. Valenzuela met Matamala and Germanidis during their time at NYU’s School of the Arts, where the three realized they shared a common understanding of AI’s creative potential curiosity. Since then, Valenzuela, Matamala, and Germanidis have set out to build a suite of AI tools for filmmakers, cinematographers, and photographers.

Over the years, Runway’s focus has gradually shifted to generative artificial intelligence, especially in video. Its current flagship product is Gen-2, an AI model that can generate video based on text prompts or existing images.

runway second generation

Video produced by Runway’s Gen-2 models. Image Source: track

We tested the Gen-2 and found it to be impressive — albeit a little short. But to its credit, Gen-2 — the follow-up to the Runway Gen-1 model introduced in February — was one of the first commercially available text-to-video models.

To be clear, Runway’s ambitions go beyond just building a toolset. The startup recently launched Runway Studios, an entertainment division that provides production partners to corporate clients. It also launched the AI ​​Film Festival, which Runway claims is one of the first events dedicated to films produced in whole or in part by AI.

Runway’s customer base now includes Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies, including New Balance and “millions” of individual creators, Valenzuela said.

Given the hype around various forms of generative artificial intelligence, the growing enterprise customer base is not surprising.in a Recent FreshBooks surveyTwenty-five percent of businesses say they are testing generative AI tools, and about 33 percent plan to experiment with using generative AI at work within the next year.

“Content creation today is very expensive and time-consuming,” he added. “We want to help get these cost and time factors as close to zero as possible, especially as companies’ content needs continue to increase . . . (our goal is to) reimagine content creation and (build) a new kind of creative suite, That generates the suite.”

The extended Series C valued Runway at $1.5 billion, bringing the company’s total funding to $237 million, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. It makes Runway one of the best-funded generative AI startups, alongside Cohere, Character.ai ($150 million) and Stability AI (about $100 million).