UPDATED 13:35 EDT / JUNE 01 2023


Google reportedly invests in generative AI startup Runway at $1.5B valuation

Updated: On June 29, Runway announced that it has raised $141 million in funding from Google LLC, Nvidia Corp., Salesforce Ventures and other backers. The capital was provided as an extension to a $50 million Series C round the startup first closed last December. 

Google LLC has reportedly invested in Runway AI Inc., a New York-based startup that develops generative artificial intelligence models.

The Information reported the deal on Wednesday, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Google is said to have made the investment as part of a $100 million funding round that Runway recently raised. The round was first reported last month by Insider, which cited sources as saying that the capital came from a “top cloud provider.” The report didn’t name the cloud provider in question.

According to The Information, Google invested in Runway at a $1.5 billion post-money valuation. That means the startup is now worth three times more than last December, when it closed a $50 million Series C round led by Felicis Ventures.

Runway closed its Series C round a few months after the release of Stable Diffusion, a popular image generation model it had helped develop. This past February, the startup released a generative AI system for creating videos. The system can take an existing clip as input and customize it based on a text prompt or reference image provide by the user.

In March, Runway detailed a newer version of its AI. The upgraded model is capable of generating higher-fidelity clips than the original. Moreover, it enables users to generate clips using only text prompts without uploading a source video.

Training advanced AI models requires a significant amount of infrastructure. According to The Information, Google’s investment in Runway is partly aimed at shifting some of the startup’s infrastructure spending to its cloud platform. The report is particularly notable because Runway announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services Inc. in March.

On Tuesday, Insider reported that Runway inked a $75 million deal with Google Cloud on April 28. The agreement is expected to go into effect at the end of August and run for three years. According to documents obtained by Insider, Runway has obtained $20 million worth of cloud credits from Google and is seeking up to $270,000 worth of free technical support.

Google’s reported investment in Runway shares certain similarities with the partnership between Microsoft Corp. and OpenAI LP. At the start of the year, Microsoft bought a stake in the latter startup for a sum reported to be $10 billion. As part of the deal, OpenAI received access to a significant amount of Azure cloud infrastructure.

The ChatGPT developer earlier raised a $1 billion investment from Microsoft in 2019. Half of that investment, or $500 million, was reportedly provided in the form of Azure credits. In 2020, Microsoft detailed that it had built an Azure-powered supercomputer for OpenAI with 10,000 graphics cards and 285,000 central processing unit cores. 

Image: Runway

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