Figure, a California A.I. startup, secures funding and partners with OpenAI

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In a move that underscores the growing interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, Sunnyvale-based startup Figure has secured a substantial $675 million in early-stage funding. The funding round, led by investors such as Nvidia, Microsoft, and Jeff Bezos’s Explore Investments LLC, values Figure at $2.6 billion.

The collaboration between Figure and OpenAI, a leading AI research lab, aims to develop generative AI for humanoid robots. This partnership comes on the heels of OpenAI’s recent launch of ChatGPT, which has sparked widespread interest in AI technologies.

“We’ve always planned to come back to robotics, and we see a path with Figure to explore what humanoid robots can achieve when powered by highly capable multimodal models,” said Peter Welinder, vice president of product and partnerships at OpenAI.

The funding round also includes investments from OpenAI Startup Fund, Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund, Parkway Venture Capital, Intel Capital, Align Ventures, and ARK Invest. Microsoft’s investment of $95 million and Bezos’s commitment of $100 million through Explore Investments LLC highlight the confidence major tech players have in Figure’s vision.

The new capital infusion will enable Figure to accelerate its commercial deployment efforts. The company plans to leverage Microsoft Azure for AI infrastructure, training, and storage. Figure recently inked a partnership with BMW Manufacturing to deploy its humanoid robots in the carmaker’s US facility.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, venture capital investment in AI startups remains strong. Last year, $170.6 billion was invested across venture capital deals in the United States, with AI startups receiving significant funding despite the overall decrease in investment activity.

The funding secured by Figure underscores the growing importance of AI and robotics in shaping the future of technology and industry. As companies continue to invest in AI-powered solutions, Figure’s innovative approach to humanoid robotics positions it well to capitalize on this trend.

(Source: Bloomberg | CNBC | Reuters)

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