generative AI unicorns

3 of the 5 AI new unicorns in Q1 were generative AI companies

Three of the new entrants to the unicorn club were generative AI companies, which is a signal that generative AI excitement is translating into real funding momentum.

ChatGPT is having its moment right now. The OpenAI chatbot met and surpassed the 100 million monthly active user milestone in January, and since then has gone from strength to strength, taking over workplaces and teaming up with global conglomerates, including Microsoft, to launch new and exciting products. While it seems that the general public is getting excited about the advent of AI, we wonder whether the tech industry is discouraged by the quarter-on-quarter funding by 43%, so we at decided to investigate further.

by Emily Sherlock

Global AI funding fell to $5B in Q1 2023, which is the lowest quarterly total that the industry has seen since Q1 2018. Meanwhile, deals also slid for the fourth quarter in a row to just 554, the lowest recorded tally since Q4 2017. While these figures alone represent a worrying trend, they are indicative of a broader drop in venture capital funding which saw funding fall by 35% in 2022.

Generative AI
Source: Bankless Times

Unicorn Births Remain Steady in 2023

Despite this funding decline, unicorn births are remaining steady. A total of five new AI unicorns emerged in Q1 2023, which is the same rate as the previous quarter. Three of the new entrants to the unicorn club were generative AI companies, which is a signal that generative AI excitement is translating into real funding momentum. The three new entrants were Anthropic, Adept and Character.AI, all of which gained valuations of $1B or above, and all of which are based in California. These new unicorns mean that the US now accounts for 64% of the 170 AI Unicorns.

Anthropic is a safety and research based AI company, and while its funding of $1.45 billion, raised by investors from Google to Menlo Ventures, represents a large investment in terms of generative AI, the company still sits outside of the top five of the largest AI start-up fundings. The companies with the largest amount of start-up funding are as follows:

1. MetaOPT

Meta needs no introduction, and its OPT model is considered to be GPT-3’s largest competitor. The 175B parameter AI-Language model was trained on a dataset containing 180B tokens, and although its performance is comparable to GPT-3, it only requires 1/7th of GPT-3’s training footprint. Meta stunned researchers last year when it invited researchers to pore over its workings and pick over its flaws. The company has raised a staggering $26.12 Billion from investors, which include PayPal and Microsoft.


OpenAI is a research and deployment company with the aim of creating safe and beneficial artificial intelligence. Although best known for ChatGPT, the company produces a range of generative AI models, from DALL-E and DALL-E 2, which generate images based on text-based descriptions, to CLIP, an AI model which can understand the contents of images and movies. With investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Microsoft, OpenAI has to date managed to raise $11.3 Billion.

3. Amazon Code Whisperer

With $8.1 Billion raised from investors which include the likes of DBS Bank and AOL, Amazon’s Code Whisperer provides AI-powered code suggestions for multiple programming languages. This enables coders to bypass time-consuming tasks and accelerate building unfamiliar APIs.

4. Nvidia Get 3D

Nvidia Get 3D populates virtual worlds with 3D objects and characters. These generated objects are used in 3D representations of buildings, outdoor spaces or entire cities, and are designed for a wide range of industries, from gaming to architecture. The California-based company has so far managed to raise an impressive $4 billion in funding from investors, including Sequoia Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund.


Like Anthropic, VOCHI also managed to raise just over $1.4 billion in investments from Rakuten, Andreessen Horowitz, K2 Global and others. VOCHI’s product is a creative video editing app, which uses AI technology to apply insane effects and video filters to stories, videos and photos. VOCHI was acquired by Pinterest in December 2021 with the aim of delivering more high quality video content to the platform.

Jonathan Merry, CEO of BanklessTimes is pleased to see a wide range of generative AI companies feature within the rankings.

The fact that the AI start-ups with the largest amount of funding all have different niches is promising for the future of the generative AI field. While OpenAI are focussed on the areas of AI research and deployment, Amazon’s Code Whisperer is a very real asset for the programming industry, and by similar measure Nvidia’s Get 3D will be of huge benefit across the board, with applications from architecture to gaming.Jonathan Merry, CEO of

ChatGPT is Already Invading The Workplace

With ChatGPT already widely used since its launch in November 2022, the initial figures undoubtedly look promising. The marketing industry has been one of the earliest adopters of OpenAI, with 37% in the industry stating that they’ve used it for work-related tasks. The technology industry follows closely behind, at 35%, and then consulting, at 30%. ChatGPT has even been deployed in the teaching industry, with 19% of educators using it to assist formulating lesson-plans and help write up reports. In accounting, the app is used by 16% of respondents, whilst healthcare has the lowest usage at just 15%. There is also a noticeable difference in usage by gender, with 30% of men using AI to help with tasks at work, compared with just 20% of women.

These statistics date from the beginning of January when OpenAI was just six weeks post-launch, so there is every reason to think that they represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AI deployment. Just two months later, Korn Ferry likened the adoption of AI to an invasion, with 46% of respondents admitting to using ChatGPT, and 80% calling it a beneficial work tool. Now at six months post-launch, interest in AI is rampant within the public and across all industries, and with venture capitalists still as keen as ever to fund unicorn births, we at BanklessTimes are optimistic that venture capital funding will pick up across all areas of generative AI during the remainder of 2023.

Emily Sherlock is a writer with 15 years’ experience in the industry. Having trained as a journalist and worked for many years managing a team at a City marketing firm, Emily’s expertise runs from foreign holidays to forex, and when not writing she can often be found enjoying countryside walks in Surrey or planning her next trip abroad.

This article originally appeared in BanklessTimes. Photo by Google DeepMind on Unsplash

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