Generative AI Coding Startup Augment Splashes Out of Stealth With $252M

Generative AI coding assistant startup Augment Inc. has announced the end of its stealth phase with a $227 million Series B funding round on top of an earlier $25 million Series A round that brings the company value nearly to unicorn status at $977 million. Sutter Hill led the Series A round, with Index Ventures, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Meritech Capital joining the new round. Augment is going up against GitHub Copilot and other generative AI coding assistants, an increasingly competitive space for both startups and established brands.

Augment AI Coding

“As large language models emerged a few years ago, this team saw their potential to make programming dramatically more productive and yield much higher-quality software. Current AI for code platforms are falling well short of realizing the potential of generative AI, and we are thrilled to be launching a product to close this gap!” Augment CEO Scott Dietzen said. “It’s clear we’re entering a once-in-a-generation pivot point in software development.”

Augment was founded two years ago by former Microsoft engineer Igor Ostrovsky and former Google AI engineer Guy Gur-Ari. They then brought on Dietzen as CEO. Dietzen had previously led data hardware and software firm Pure Storage, where Ostrovsky had been chief architect.

Augment’s coding AI idea is not entirely unique, but there’s an enormous market for better software engineering. Many companies are keen to streamline and reduce the costs of the $1 trillion spent every year on software development, according to Gartner. Coding AI tools are mushrooming among major tech brands, as GitHub Copilot has been quickly joined by the likes of Google Gemini Code Assist, Amazon’s CodeWhisperer, IBM’s watsonx Code Assistant, Meta’s Code Llama and the open-source Starcoder 2 from Hugging Face. That’s before considering startups in the field attracting plenty of investment. For instance, generative AI coding assistance startup Tabnine scored a $25 million round in November, while February saw Codeium raise $65 million and Magic Ai raise $117 million for a coding ‘coworker.’

Augment claims current AI coding assistants fall short of understanding the programmer’s intent and fail in other aspects of their roles. How exactly the company plans to address those shortfalls is still a little vague as there’s been no official explanation of the models powering the platform or of the revenue structure being set up. That said, the company has outlined some goals and strategies that would make it stand out. The list includes an ‘expert understanding’  of codebases that mimics working with experienced engineers who can adapt to different teams and grasp the code patterns of a company.

Speed is also crucial, and head of product Dion Almaer claimed in an Augment blog post claims that the company has an inference that operates at triple the speed of competitors thanks to proprietary techniques and custom GPU infrastructure. In addition, Augment is trying to head off controversy over how AI assistants aren’t always adept at the protection of intellectual property, with stringent identification and removal of copyrighted code.

“Software engineering is rapidly evolving into a collaboration between human and artificial intelligence,” Igor Ostrovsky said. “At Augment, we are working with extraordinary focus to empower teams around the world with AI, enabling them to build better software.”


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