Pika, an AI Video Startup, Secures $80M in Funding to Rival OpenAI and Google

AI video generation startup, Pika, has raised $80 million in a recent funding round, increasing its valuation to $470 million. This sets Pika alongside other AI video startups, such as Runway and Synthesia, who have also secured significant funding over the past year. Venture capital investment in AI and machine-learning companies has been growing, with a total of $25.9 billion invested in the first quarter of 2024, up from $21.7 billion the previous year.

Pika’s funding round, which included contributions from Spark Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Greycroft, will aid the startup in its attempt to compete with industry giants like OpenAI and Google. AI video generation is seen as the next frontier, following an explosion of interest in text and image generators. However, creating videos using AI is a more challenging and expensive process due to the extensive computer processing power required.

Pika has developed its own “foundation model”, opting not to rely on technology from other AI companies. This independent approach, however, is costly and the new funding will support the continued training of its AI and the enhancement of its video-editing tool.

Pika’s tool allows users to generate short videos based on text prompts, offering options to adjust the aspect ratio, lengthen videos, trim sections, and modify specific elements. This technology is used by a team of 13, which includes former AI researchers from Google, Meta, and Uber. The startup was founded by former Stanford University AI PhD students, Demi Guo and Chenlin Meng.

Despite the technical challenges and competition in the AI video market, CEO Guo expressed confidence in Pika’s capabilities. She stated that the company’s technical team’s background in top AI organizations equipped them to build the best video foundation model.

AI video tools are still in the early stages of development, but static AI images are now commonplace on social media platforms. The popularity of video-based social media platforms has led to an increase in apps designed to assist users in editing videos for platforms like Instagram and TikTok. However, the widespread use of AI image generators has resulted in their use for propaganda, as seen in India’s recent elections where deepfake images and audio were utilized.

Despite securing a total of $135 million in funding, Pika will face stiff competition from larger AI companies, such as OpenAI, which have access to billions of dollars and large staff numbers. However, Guo compared Pika to other AI startups, like French company Mistral AI, which have managed to develop significant technology despite having less funding. She suggested that Pika’s design approach means it doesn’t require the large budgets of bigger companies.

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