Tokyo-Based AI Startup Sakana AI Raises $30 Million in Seed Funding Led by Lux Capital

Former Google Researchers Aim to Revolutionize AI Systems and Establish Tokyo as a Hub for Artificial Intelligence

Jan 16, 2024 - 09:58
Jan 16, 2024 - 10:01
Tokyo-Based AI Startup Sakana AI Raises $30 Million in Seed Funding Led by Lux Capital
Tokyo-Based AI Startup Sakana AI Raises $30 Million in Seed Funding Led by Lux Capital

Sakana AI, an artificial intelligence startup in Tokyo, has successfully raised $30 million in a seed financing round. The funding, led by Lux Capital and supported by Khosla Ventures, aims to position Tokyo as a prominent hub for artificial intelligence, following the footsteps of OpenAI in San Francisco and DeepMind in London.

Sakana AI, founded by former Google researchers David Ha and Llion Jones, envisions bringing fundamental improvements to existing AI systems. Despite not having any products in the market yet, the startup plans to revolutionize the AI landscape by fostering collaboration among numerous smaller models, departing from the conventional approach of creating a single massive model.

Lux Capital partner Grace Isford expressed the ambition to place Tokyo on the global AI map, highlighting the potential impact akin to what OpenAI achieved for San Francisco and DeepMind for London.

The uniqueness of Sakana AI's approach lies in its commitment to developing AI models tailored for the Asian market. This distinction arises from the significant differences between Asian character-based languages and Western languages. Brandon Reeves, a partner at Lux Capital, emphasized that Asian languages remain underexplored due to the predominant focus on Western languages by large language models.

The co-founders, David Ha and Llion Jones, bring extensive expertise from their tenure at Google. Llion Jones, recognized as the fifth author on Google's 2017 research paper "Attention Is All You Need," played a crucial role in introducing the transformative "transformer" deep learning architecture. This architecture became the foundation for the widely popular ChatGPT chatbot and the ongoing race to develop products powered by generative AI.

David Ha, the former head of research at Stability AI and a Google Brain researcher, complements the team's wealth of knowledge in AI research and development.

Notably, all authors of the influential "Attention Is All You Need" paper have departed from Google, embarking on ventures that attract substantial funding. Lux Capital, specializing in deep technology investments across industries like aerospace, AI, and biology, sees immense potential in Sakana AI's innovative approach.

As Tokyo emerges as a new contender in the global AI landscape, Sakana AI's journey signifies a transformative venture led by seasoned researchers, aiming to shape the future of artificial intelligence.

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