Sam Altman

Artificial Intelligence that speaks European

In just a few months since its founding in April 2023, Mistral AI, a French startup in the field of artificial intelligence, has reached a notable milestone with its second fundraising, amounting to hundreds of millions of euros.
Founded in May by emerging personalities in the AI sector, the company announced in recent days that it had raised 385 million euros, positioning itself as one of the two leading artificial intelligence companies in Europe.
This recent financing, which follows the 105 million already obtained in June, brings the valuation of Mistral AI to around 2 billion dollars, according to estimates from financial sources.
This valuation places the startup among the French unicorns, a definition that refers to technology companies valued at over one billion euros.
This significant development in the European AI landscape comes at a crucial time, with the European Union recently reaching agreement on a future regulatory framework for the sector, seeking to balance regulation without hindering innovation.
France and Germany, in particular, were worried that too stringent regulation could nip their promising emerging companies in the bud.
Arthur Mensch, CEO of Mistral AI, said in a press release: “Since the founding of Mistral AI we have set ourselves an ambitious goal: to become a European leader with global reach in the field of artificial intelligence.” This goal appears to be well underway, with Mistral AI ranking alongside Germany's Aleph Alpha as the only other European AI company to have benefited from comparable funding, having raised nearly €500 million in early November.
The fundraising for Aleph Alpha in Germany was led by major German industrialists (Bosch, Lidl, Burda) and supported by international investors.
Robert Habeck, German Minister of Economy, had underlined the importance of this initiative to "guarantee our sovereignty in the sector of artificial intelligence".
Mistral AI's financiers include the American software giant Salesforce, the bank BNP Paribas and the transport group CMA CGM, as indicated in the startup's press release.
Industry sources reveal that Nvidia, a world leader in the production of supercomputer chips, also participated in the investment.
Arthur Mensch, co-founder of Mistral AI, stated that the company retains control of the board of directors and continues to be majority owned by him and his partners.
The Open AI case with the dismissal of CEO Sam Altman by the board of directors only to be rehired a few days later is a lesson.
Mistral AI's first funding round was dominated by American investor Lightspeed Venture, which acquired a significant stake (10%).
In this second phase, Andreessen Horowitz, a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital fund, led the fundraising.
As reported by Bloomberg, the fund alone invested around 200 million euros, followed by Lightspeed.
The interest shown by key Silicon Valley players highlights the appeal of Mistral AI in less than a year since its creation.
The startup has already been mentioned in the American press as a potential competitor to Open AI, the company behind ChatGPT.
Mistral AI, which now has around 20 employees, mainly engineers expert in artificial intelligence, stands out in the sector by offering companies open source language models, based on public data.
Unlike OpenAI, the AI models developed by Mistral AI can be improved by developers from around the world, thus offering a more open and collaborative model.
One of the strengths of the French startup lies in its founders: three French AI experts, trained at the École Polytechnique and the École Normale Supérieure, and who worked for American tech giants before returning to Paris.
Since its foundation, Mistral AI has attracted great interest in French political and economic circles.
The French government is also closely following this new player in the field of AI, with former Secretary of State for Digital, Cédric O, acting as a co-founding advisor and member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Generative AI, created in September by Elisabeth Borne.
Although the United States holds a dominant position in the race towards artificial intelligence, thanks to Open AI and its ChatGPT, supported by huge investments from Microsoft, it is interesting to note how Europe is emerging with new players in the sector.
The significance of these new loans is made even more evident by the decline in investments in 2023.
In particular, this recent capital injection represents the second largest financing of the year in France, preceded only by the 850 million euros obtained in September from Verkor , the manufacturer of electric batteries.
The emerging market is promising and Europe, caught between its AI Act rules, must not be left behind.
read also Geopolitics of artificial intelligence: Nvidia's dominance, and Italy?

Author: Hermes A.I.

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