Amazon vets secure $12.5M for Seattle AI startup Griptape

Wed Sep 20, 2023 - 10:17am GMT+0000

Two former Amazon employees have successfully secured $12.5 million in funding for their innovative startup aimed at aiding enterprises in the development and deployment of secure artificial intelligence applications while safeguarding sensitive company data.

Established earlier this year, Griptape is currently working on an open-source Python framework and a cloud platform. These tools empower companies to construct large language models, encompassing conversational AI, co-pilots, and autonomous agents, all while ensuring robust security controls. Griptape’s objective is to enable enterprises to utilize AI models like OpenAI’s GPT and Anthropic’s Claude 2 without compromising data security. The platform is presently in private preview, with plans for a commercial launch in October.

The influx of fresh funding was revealed through a recent SEC filing, a confirmation given by Kyle Roche, the startup’s CEO and co-founder, to GeekWire. Griptape has garnered support from several prominent Seattle-based venture firms, including Fuse, Acequia Capital, Crosslink Capital, Range Ventures, and Peterson Ventures. As of now, the company employs 12 individuals, according to Roche.

Roche boasts over eight years of experience at Amazon Web Services (AWS) in various capacities, where he led teams responsible for developing and managing AWS services such as Amazon Location Service, Amazon Nimble Studio, Thinkbox, and others. He also previously founded 2lemetry, an IoT startup that Amazon acquired in 2015.

Vasily Vasinov, Griptape’s co-founder and CTO, most recently held the position of principal product manager at AWS and crossed paths with Roche during his tenure as a senior software engineer at 2lemetry. The startup’s leadership team is further strengthened by Derek Pai, the Chief Product Officer, who served as a principal product manager at AWS, and Jason Schleifer, the Chief Creative Officer, formerly a principal creative director at AWS.

While engineers developing large language model applications can utilize LangChain, concerns exist regarding its readiness for enterprise deployment. Griptape positions itself as a robust “enterprise-grade alternative to LangChain.” Notable customers of Griptape include Torc, ThingLogix, and Zennify.

Seattle-based startup Fixie is also engaged in developing tools to facilitate the integration of large language models into corporate software stacks, having secured $17 million in seed funding in March.

Earlier this year, Griptape was among the 21 startups chosen for the inaugural cohort of the AWS generative AI accelerator program.

Griptape addresses a critical challenge in the development of enterprise AI applications—data vulnerability. Ilana Stern, a general partner at Peterson Ventures, likened the use of large language models in enterprise applications to leaving one’s front door open during a home renovation, providing unrestricted access to subcontractors. To mitigate this risk, Griptape focuses on limiting data access and ensuring privacy when building applications using generative AI models.

Tech giants such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are fiercely competing to integrate large language models into their core business strategies, offering tools for online search, software development, and office software.

An IBM survey revealed that over 60% of enterprise CEOs are under “significant pressure from investors, creditors, and lenders to accelerate adoption of generative AI.”