Generative AI WhatsApp Chatbot Startup Luzia Raises $10M
Generative AI chatbot assistant startup Luzia has raised $10 million in a Series A funding round led by Khosla Ventures. Luzia embeds its eponymous assistant in WhatsApp and Telegram, aiming to draw users who might not seek out ChatGPT or other standalone chatbots powered by large language models (LLMs) but who are comfortable interacting with a chatbot on existing messaging services.
The Spain-based Luzia’s free AI assistant operates like many chatbots on WhatsApp and Telegram. The difference is the mix of LLMs, including OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 and GPT-4, Meta’s Llama 2, and Kandinsky 2.1, fueling the completion of tasks through natural voice and text interactions. The AI responds in Spanish or Portuguese, depending on the language written or spoken by the user. That’s a smart move when voice assistants tailored to Spanish and Portuguese speakers are relatively rare. The startup plans on building up the AI’s English understanding as it pursues a bigger presence in the U.S. with the new investment.
Luzia has several features familiar to users of ChatGPT, Claude, or other chatbots, such as transcription, translation, and image generation. Because it operates on the encrypted WhatsApp and Telegram messaging channels, it can also boast of offering more privacy than those services, which usually require signing up or linking an account to an email address. The startup claims to have more than 17 million active users worldwide and to have processed over 900 million messages. The new funding nearly doubles Luzia’s investment to $13 million raised since it launched six months ago.
“This investment is a significant step for Luzia in fulfilling its mission as a company by bringing the power of artificial intelligence to more people and bridging the technological divide in the world,” Luzia CEO Álvaro Higes said. “We’re excited to bring the best and most user-friendly global personal assistant to millions of people around the world and look forward to revolutionizing how they interact with technology, simplifying their tasks, boosting productivity and inspiring them in ways they’ve never imagined.”
The value of conversational AI assistants on WhatsApp and similar platforms has been well-documented in recent years. The Indian supermarket chain JioMart’s WhatsApp chatbot for grocery shopping was a huge success, as were many of the governmental chatbots keeping people updated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Generative AI just makes them more flexible and able to handle more complex chores and even characters. That’s where Meta’s experiment in celebrity-backed and voiced chatbots fits. Like Luzia, Meta is looking to attract those who might not want to go through OpenAI’s website but are used to Facebook Messenger as an interface for chatbots. The question is if Luzia’s approach will find a long-term user base as people get more comfortable with generative AI conversations.