Perplexity AI Raises $25.6M and Launches Conversational Search Engine iOS App
Generative AI chatbot startup Perplexity AI has raised $25.6 million in a Series A funding round led by New Enterprise Associates and launched an iOS app for its conversational search engine. The ChatGPT-style interface of the mobile app responds to queries in text and voice with real-time information and footnotes with links to data sources.
Perplexity claims its website and Chrome extension attracted two million unique visitors in February, with about 10 million monthly visits. Perplexity’s mobile app expands the startup’s “answer engine” to iPhones but operates largely the same as the browser extension and website. The conversational format allows users to ask questions, which the AI will generate an answer to based on multiple sources cited within the response. Users can then follow the links or ask follow-up questions which the AI will answer based on the context of its earlier responses. The main difference is that users can now maintain their search history and share the responses they receive by signing into the app.
“We have built a first-of-its-kind conversational answer engine that is grounded in providing accurate and relevant information through citations. This is a first step in our mission of building the world’s most transparent information service and maximizing the knowledge and productivity of the average consumer,” Perplexity CEO Aravind Srinivas said. “When people search online for answers to their questions, they are presented with endless lists of links that can be manipulated by advertisers and search engine optimization. Individuals are then tasked with sifting through those websites and distilling the information, much of which may not be accurate in the first place. With Perplexity AI, we aspire to fix all of that.”
Conversational generative AI for searching the web has become a major theme for the technology in recent months. The new ChatGPT plug-ins launched last week with real-time search as one of the first-party functions. ChatGPT’s AI also fuels the Microsoft Bing AI chatbot and DuckDuckGo’s new DuckAssist feature, which answers search queries by summarizing relevant parts of Wikipedia articles. Web browser Brave’s Summarizer uses in-house AI models for the same purpose and Google is looking to make the Bard AI chatbot a ‘complementary’ service for its search engine. On the conversational side, search engine developer You.com has its YouChat chatbot to offer both conversational AI tools and search, and Jasper Chat provides a chatbot format for Jasper’s own generative AI engine.