December 17, 2019 / 2:02 PM / 2 months ago

Andreessen Horowitz leads funding in San Francisco Bay Area startup helping to run big AI software

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Top Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz said on Tuesday it led a series A funding for Berkeley, California, startup Anyscale that supports a platform called Ray that stitches together computing power for software too big for one chip.

The company was founded by a team from University of California Berkeley that developed Ray, an open-source platform. It raised $20.6 million in this round.

Ben Horowitz, the founding partner for Andreessen Horowitz, told Reuters that platforms like Ray are important as computers are not able to keep up with applications for artificial intelligence.

“When you get into the field of AI, even if Moore’s Law was running at full steam. It’s inadequate,” said Horowitz, referring to how transistor density doubles about every two years, making chips smaller and faster. “And so you need to be able to deal with distributed computing, which is extremely hard to do, if you’re not Google. And Ray, in our view, is the kind of best approach to that problem.”

Intel Capital said it is also an investor in Anyscale, and Intel said it was using the Ray platform.

For heavy software programs unable to run on one chip, Ray helps split up the process to run on multiple chips, and that can help software companies scale up as well, said Robert Nishihara, co-founder and CEO. He said the funds raised would be used to hire “aggressively” to improve the Ray platform and commercialize it.

Co-founder Ion Stoica, a professor at UC Berkeley, is also a founder of Databricks which commercialized another UC Berkeley open source project Apache Spark that helps process large amounts of data. Databricks raised $400 million in October at a $6.2 billion valuation. Andreessen Horowitz also led that round.

Stoica declined to share the valuation of Anyscale. (Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee in San Francisco Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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