Microsoft-Backed Mistral AI Startup Raises $640M; Hits $6B Valuation

‘This new round puts us in a unique position to push the frontier of AI and bring state-of-the-art technology to everyone’s hands,’ says Mistral AI CEO Arthur Mensch.

Microsoft-backed startup Mistral AI has raised $643 million in a new funding round, which increased the company’s valuation to $6 billion.

Arthur Mensch, CEO and co-founder of the France-based AI startup said the new funding puts his company at the forefront of the booming AI industry.

“This new round puts us in a unique position to push the frontier of AI and bring state-of-the-art technology to everyone’s hands,” Mensch (pictured) said in a statement to CRN. “It guarantees the company’s continued independence, which remains fully under the founders’ control.”

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The AI startup was co-founded by former Meta and Google DeepMind employees, including Mensch.

Microsoft is a minor shareholder of the company and owns a multi-year distribution partnership to bring Mistral’s AI models to Microsoft Azure.

The $643 million in new investment triples the startup’s valuation since December. The funding round was led by General Catalyst, along with existing investors Lightspeed, Andreessen Horowitz and BNP Paribas with corporate backers including Nvidia, Salesforce and IBM.

Microsoft, which has invested at least $16 million already in the startup, did not participate in the new funding round.

“I am delighted to see new and existing investors renew their confidence in our business and provide new support for its expansion,” said CEO Mensch.

Who Is Mistral AI?

Mistral AI is developing foundational models to rival the market’s top large language models (LLMs) such as Anthropic’s Claude and OpenAI’s GPT.

In September, the company unveiled its first generative AI model, the Mistral 7B.

Mistral AI advanced models like Mistral Large are designed to be repackaged as API-first products. The startup has also released pre-trained and fine-tuned models under an open-source license with open weights. Additionally, Mistral also offers an AI chatbot assistance dubbed Le Chat that is free to use.

The startup raised $113 million in a seed round in June 2023.

Mistral AI then raised $415 million in December, placing Mistral’s valuation around $2 billion.

This year, French President Emmanual Macron touted Mistral AI as an example of how European startups can compete with U.S. tech companies. The company currently has less than 100 employees with the majority working on product research and development.

New SAP, IBM Partnerships

Over the past two months, Mistral AI has announced partnerships with several tech giants.

This month, Mistral AI announced a partnership with SAP to provide SAP customers with access to Mistral LLMs.

In May, IBM unveiled a new partnership with Mistral AI to bring its commercial AI models to IBM’s watsonx platform. IBM said it will continue to collaborate with Mistral AI around open innovation by building on both companies work open source community.