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AI-Empowering Startup Paperspace Closes $13 Million Round; Intel Comes On As Strategic Investor

The startup, which eases provisioning of GPUs to power machine-learning workloads, plans tighter integration with strategic investor Intel as AI hardware and software layers collide.

Paperspace, a startup looking to fast-track artificial intelligence development by making GPUs more accessible, said Tuesday it had secured nearly $13 million in Series A funding, including a strategic investment from Intel.

With the latest infusion of cash and new powerhouse investor, Paperspace plans to scale its go-to-market efforts, expand the capabilities of its GPU provisioning platform, and build tighter integration with hardware products from Intel and other chipmakers, Dillon Erb, a Paperspace co-founder, told CRN.

Joining Intel Capital in the round were Battery Ventures, SineWave Ventures, Sorenson Ventures and existing investor Initialized Capital.

The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company—founded through Y Combinator, which provides seed funding for startups—has now received total funding of $19 million.

[Related: The 10 Coolest Machine-Learning And AI Startups Of 2018 (So Far)]

Since its founding three years ago, Paperspace has focused on facilitating the use of GPUs for machine learning and deep learning projects with a software layer that automates provisioning and managing of that infrastructure.

Intel's investment represents a "big bet that hardware and software layers are going to collide," Erb said.

Paperspace partners with range of hardware vendors, especially graphics processing giant Nvidia, as well as Google, developer of Tensor Processing Units for AI acceleration.

"We're working with them to help democratize tooling and build out a tighter integration with the hardware and software stack," Erb said. "We provide a software layer that turns this raw, high-performance infrastructure into something really useful."

Tighter integration with Intel's emerging AI portfolio will benefit the startup and the semiconductor giant.

"This software can help activate the hardware they're selling," Erb said.

Intel has been investing heavily in AI in recent years.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company recently disclosed that Xeon processor sales for AI applications reached $1 billion last year.

In August, Intel purchased small AI startup Vertex.Ai. Before that, it acquired structured ASIC maker eASIC, reprogrammable chip maker Altera, autonomous vehicle software maker Mobileye, computer vision provider Movidius, and AI chipmaker Nervana Systems.

Intel also has put an emphasis on developing its own AI capabilities, including the OpenVINO toolkit.

Having Intel as a strategic investor will open Paperspace to new distribution channels and enterprise customers buying high-end storage devices and components, Erb said.

With the latest funding, Paperspace will look to rapidly double the size of its team, which currently stands at 16 employees. The startup wants to hire developers and build out its sales and marketing organization.

Development efforts will look to add features to its Gradient platform, a toolkit for streamlining deployment of GPU-accelerated instances.

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