Mistral AI secures €105M in Europe’s largest-ever seed round

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Mistral AI secures €105M in Europe’s largest-ever seed round

Linnea Ahlgren

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Linnea Ahlgren

Linnea is the senior editor at TNW, having joined in April 2023. She has a background in international relations and covers clean and climat Linnea is the senior editor at TNW, having joined in April 2023. She has a background in international relations and covers clean and climate tech, AI and quantum computing. But first, coffee.

The artificial intelligence hype shows no sign of fading just yet, and investors are practically falling over themselves to fund the next big thing in AI. Yesterday, Paris-based startup Mistral AI announced it had secured €105mn in what is reportedly Europe’s largest-ever seed round. 

Mistral AI was founded only four weeks ago, by a trio of AI researchers. Arthur Mensch, the company’s CEO, was formerly employed by Google’s DeepMind. His co-founders, Timothée Lacroix (CTO) and Guillaume Lample (Chief Science Officer), previously worked for Meta. 

The company has yet to develop its first product. However, on a mission to “make AI useful,” it plans to launch a large language model (LLM) similar to the system behind OpenAI’s ChatGPT in early 2024. 

A large part of the funds raised will be used towards renting the computer power to train it. The idea is to only use publicly available data to avoid the legal issues and copyright backlash faced by others in the industry. 

While Mistral hopes to take on OpenAI with actual open-sourced models and data sets, it is setting itself apart from the Microsoft-backed step-change initiator by targeting enterprises instead of consumers. The company says its goal is to help business clients improve processes around R&D, customer care, and marketing, as well as giving them the tools to build new products with AI.

Vision coupled with hands-on experience

The funding round is led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. The VC’s partner, Antoine Moyroud, says that Lightspeed has had the opportunity to meet with several talented researchers-turned-founders in AI, but few had a vision beyond the technical field. 

Mensch, Lacroix and Lample, on the other hand, according to Moyroud, are “part of a group of select few globally who have both the technical understanding required to build out their own vision along with the hands-on experience of training and operating large language models at scale.”

Generally, the American VC says it believes that Europe has “a decisive role” to play in the AI field. Just in September last year, the firm opened up new offices in London, Berlin, and Paris, and says it is looking to partner with more European founders of the same ambition behind Mistral.

“Our investment in Mistral, and all our portfolio companies in Europe, are evidence of our firm conviction that a new generation of global players will emerge from this ecosystem,” Lightspeed said in a statement.  

JCDecaux Holding, Motier Ventures, La Famiglia, Headline, Exor Ventures, Sofina, First Minute Capital, and LocalGlobe also participated in the round, along with private investors including French billionaires Rodolphe Saadé and Xavier Niel, as well as former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and French investment bank BpiFrance.

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