It’s a big day for generative AI funding.
On the heels of Inflection AI landing a $1.3 billion investment, Runway, a startup building generative AI tools for multimedia content creators, today announced a $141 million extension to its Series C round from Google, Nvidia and Salesforce, among others.
Building on the Series C the company announced in December, Runway says that the new capital will be used to scale its in-house research efforts and expand Runway’s headcount.
“We’re focused on how we can continue pushing the boundaries of creativity,” Runway CEO Cris Valenzuela told TechCrunch via email. “The additional funding allows us to double down on this, innovating on new tools for artists and creators.”
Runway was founded in 2018 by Valenzuela, Alejandro Matamala and Anastasis Germanidis. Valenzuela met Matamala and Germanidis while in art school at NYU, where the trio came to realize that they shared a curiosity in AI’s creative potential. From there, Valenzuela, Matamala and Germanidis started building a suite of AI-powered tools geared toward moviemakers, cinematographers and photographers.
Runway’s focus has gradually shifted over the years to generative AI, particularly on the video side. Its current flagship product is Gen-2, an AI model that generates videos from text prompts or an existing image.
We tested Gen-2 and found it to be impressive — if somewhat wanting. But to Runway’s credit, Gen-2 — the follow-up to Runway’s Gen-1 model launched in February — is one of the first commercially available text-to-video models.
Runway has ambitions beyond building a toolset, to be clear. The startup recently founded Runway Studios, an entertainment division that serves as a production partner for enterprise clients. It also launched the AI Film Festival, an event Runway claims is one of the first dedicated to showcasing films produced in whole or in part by AI.
Valenzuela says that Runway’s customer base now spans Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies, including New Balance and “millions” of individual creators.
The growing enterprise client base isn’t surprising, considering the massive hype around all forms of generative AI. In a recent FreshBooks survey, 25% of businesses said that they’re testing generative AI tools, while around 33% plan to try generative AI for work within the next year.
“Content creation today is very expensive and time consuming,” he added. “We want to help bring those cost and time factors as close to zero as possible, especially as companies’ content needs are only increasing . . . [Our goal is to] reimagine content creation and [build] a new type of creative suite, the generative suite.”
The Series C extension — which values Runway at $1.5 billion, a source familiar with the matter tells TechCrunch — brings the company’s total raised to $237 million. It makes Runway one of the better-funded generative AI startups out there, in league with Cohere, Character.ai ($150 million) and Stability AI (~$100 million).