Sydney, Australia-based Leonardo.Ai is one of the latest generative AI startups to raise funding. Today, the AI art production platform for consumers and enterprise users announced a $31 million round from investors including Blackbird, Side Stage Ventures, Smash Capital, TIRTA Ventures, Gaorong Capital, and Samsung Next.
Founded last year, the founders of Leonardo.Ai say that since December it has reached seven million users, who have generated more than 700 million images in total. It recently launched its enterprise version, which includes collaboration tools and allows hosting in a private cloud. Business users also get access to APIs so they can build their own technology infrastructure on top of the Leonard.Ai platform, starting with their production API.
Aimed at people in creative industries such as gaming, advertising, fashion and architecture, Leonardo.Ai allows users to save, edit and create multiple assets in the same style so they can be reused. They can also build and train their own models for image generation.
Some use cases include storyboarding for people in video production or game character mockups. CEO and co-founder JJ Fiasson became interested in generative AI when Google Deep Dream launched and continued to explore generative AI at his latest startup, game studio Raini Studios.
“We began to think about the possible application of generative AI within the framework of content creation. It was still early, in 2021, but we went down the rabbit hole playing with a lot of the generative AI tools that are out there, the open source ones that are out there, and I got into that community and met a couple of passionate AI researchers. AI who are now the co-founders of the company,” he tells TechCrunch.
Originally, Leonardo.Ai was intended to focus on creating gaming asset content, but then its team decided to develop the platform to meet more scenarios. “There are many different vertical use cases of the platform and we have built it in a way that supports multiple use cases,” says Fiasson. “Part of our strategy going forward is to expand the B2B aspects of our platform.”
Leonardo.Ai’s AI was built on open source technologies and then trained using synthetic data and Creative Commons data. Fiasson says Leonardo.Ai differentiates itself from other AI generative art platforms like Adobe Firefly, BlueWillow and Midjourney by the amount of control it gives users. For example, its Live Canvas feature allows users to enter a text message and then make a quick sketch of what they want the final result to look like. As the user draws, Leonardo.Ai creates a photorealistic image based on both text and sketch prompts in real time.
“We believe that control means utility,” says Fiasson. “If you don’t have as much control, you’re just making pretty images, and that’s key for us.”
Leonardo.Ai’s new funding will allow it to hire more sales and marketing team members as it expands its enterprise product. He also plans to build his engineering team.