Perplexity AI, a startup that just raised $73.6 million from Nvidia and Databricks, wants to take on Google's search engine dominance

Perplexity AI logo displayed on a smartphone sitting on a laptop keyboard
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US startup Perplexity AI hopes to take on Google’s dominance in the search engine space following a $73.6 million investment round that saw industry heavyweights such as Nvidia and Databricks pledge their support.

Launched in August 2022, the firm is now valued at over $520 million in the wake of the funding round, which builds on a $25.6 million Series A in March 2023. The investment round was led by IVP with additional support from Databricks Ventures, Nvidia, and notably, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. 

In an announcement post, CEO and co-founder Aravind Srinivas shed light on the company’s core vision, which appears to be aimed at positioning itself as a leading stakeholder in what he described as a “new era of AI-native search”.

The firm’s platform provides users with a chatbot-style search experience that enables them to input natural language queries and receive detailed information on specific topics, similar to other chatbots such as ChatGPT.

It also has a ‘Copilot’ feature that allows users to ask follow-up questions and receive “more relevant and comprehensive answers” compared to other AI chatbots, the firm said.

“With Perplexity’s search tools, users get instant, reliable answers to any question with complete sources and citations included. There is no need to click on different links, compare answers, or endlessly dig for information,” Srinivas said. 

“The times of sifting through SEO spam, sponsored links, and multiple web pages will be replaced by a much more efficient way to consume and share information, propelling our society into a new era of accelerated learning and research.”

Perplexity’s search tool draws on a wide range of generative AI models, the company revealed, rather than through a single monolithic LLM akin to the style of Google or Bing’s AI-powered search functions.

Perplexity AI users can switch models as part of its paid ‘Pro’ plan, providing access to Google Gemini, Anthropic’s Claude model, and OpenAI’s GPT-4.

Can Perplexity AI seriously hope to take on Google?

Srinivas seems confident the company can capitalize on recent growth, mount a challenge against Google, and shake up the global search space. 

Since its launch in August 2022, the company has grown to 10 million monthly active users and served over half a billion queries in 2023, he noted.

“More than a million people have installed our mobile apple, both on iOS and Android,” Srinivas added. “But our ambition is to serve the entire planet’s unbounded curiosity, and we’re just getting started.”

Putting so much as a dent in Google’s dominance in the search space will be a tough task, however. At present, the tech giant commands a 90% share of the industry, and it shows no signs of loosening its grip.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine holds a market share of just 3.38% despite major efforts in recent years to overturn Google’s stranglehold.

The advent of ChatGPT appeared to offer somewhat of a silver bullet for Microsoft during the dawning of the generative AI boom in early 2023.


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In January, the tech giant unveiled plans to integrate ChatGPT within Bing Search in a bid to provide users with a more “conversational” experience that offered additional insight or deeper context compared to a traditional search engine.

CEO Satya Nadella spoke optimistically in February about the potential for an AI-powered Bing experience to ‘dethrone’ Google, but thus far it has failed to do so.

Google, meanwhile, hasn’t been idle in this space over the last year. The tech giant’s Bard model has also been integrated within its own search engine.

Ross Kelly
News and Analysis Editor

Ross Kelly is ITPro's News & Analysis Editor, responsible for leading the brand's news output and in-depth reporting on the latest stories from across the business technology landscape. Ross was previously a Staff Writer, during which time he developed a keen interest in cyber security, business leadership, and emerging technologies.

He graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, and joined ITPro in 2022 after four years working in technology conference research.

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