ML experiment startup Spell raises $15m

Spell, a startup created by a former Facebook engineer which allows developers to run machine learning experiments, just raised $15m in its first round of funding

21Jan

New York-based startup Spell has just raised $15m in its Series A round of funding led by Eclipse Ventures and Two Sigma Ventures. Spell is an open, collaborative platform which allows anyone to utilize the latest hardware and software and run machine learning (ML) experiments in their efforts to build AI.

Engineers can virtually access the latest hardware hosted by Google, Microsoft Azure and AWS, along with the necessary software interface needed to run them within the Spell platform. This allows individuals or smaller companies to collaboratively build AI without also needing to build their own high-powered computer with the GPUs necessary to run such ML experiments.

Spell was created by Serkan Piantino, the former founder and site director of Facebook New York and co-founder of Facebook AI Research. After his time with Facebook he noticed that without the infrastructure of the social media giant behind him, it was a significantly more expensive and tedious task sourcing the hardware and software necessary to carry on his AI research.

"We spent decades getting to a laptop powerful enough to develop a mobile app or a website, but we're struggling with things we develop in AI that we haven't struggled with since the 70s," explained Piantino in an interview with TechCrunch.

"Before PCs existed, the computers filled the whole room at a university or NASA and people used terminals to log into a single main frame. It's why Unix was invented, and that's kind of what AI needs right now," he added.

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