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 USD round from investors, including Blackbird, Side Stage Ventures, Smash Capital, TIRTA Ventures, Gaorong Capital and Samsung Next.
Founded last year, Leonardo.Ai’s founders say that since December, it has hit 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 on a private cloud. Enterprise users also get access to APIs so they can build their own tech infrastructure on top of Leonardo.Ai’s platform, starting with its production API.
Aimed at people in creative industries, including gaming, advertising, fashion and architecture, Leonardo.Ai lets users save, edit and build 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 storyboards for people in video production, or mockups of gaming characters. CEO and co-founder J.J. Fiasson became interested in generative AI when Google Deep Dream launched, and continued to explore generative AI at his last startup, gaming studio Raini Studios.
“We started to think about the potential application of generative AI within the framework of content creation. It was still early days, 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 fell into that community and met a couple of passionate AI researchers who are now the co-founders of the company,” he tells TechCrunch.
Leonardo.Ai was originally meant to focus on game asset content creation, but then its team decided to build out the platform to meet more scenarios. “There’s a lot of different vertical use cases of the platform and we’ve built it in a way, and continue to build it in a way, that supports multiple use cases,” Fiasson says. “Part of our strategy moving into the future is expanding the B2B aspects of our platform.”
Leonardo.Ai’s AI was built on open source technologies and then trained using synthetic data and data from Creative Commons. Fiasson says Leonardo.Ai differentiates from other generative AI art platforms like Adobe Firefly, BlueWillow and Midjourney by the amount of control that it gives users. For example, its Live Canvas feature enables users to enter a text prompt and then make a quick sketch of what they want the end result to look like. As the user sketches, Leonardo.Ai creates a photorealistic image based on both text and sketch prompts in real time.
“We think control means utility,” says Fiasson. “If you don’t have as much control, you’re just making pretty pictures, so that’s key to us.”
Leonardo.Ai’s new funding will allow it to hire more sales and marketing team members as it scales out its enterprise product. It also plans to build its engineering team.