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Pika Labs raises $55M, launches new AI video platform to take on Runway


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Today, Pika Labs, a six-month-old video AI startup, announced it has raised $35 million in a series A round of funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, alongside earlier side rounds, putting the total raised by the young firm at $55 million.

The company also unveiled Pika 1.0, a new web platform building upon its earlier beta release that allows users to generate and edit videos in diverse styles such as 3D animation, anime or cinematic – just from text prompts.

The news marks the latest development in the rapidly evolving AI-driven video-generation game and puts Pika right against competitive offerings from Runway and Stability AI. Adobe is also experimenting in the same area and has showcased a bunch of tools that can generate and edit objects in videos.

Pika says its product, which is already used by over half a million people, is open for sign-ups and will be gradually made available to users, making everyone a creative video director and producer.

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What to expect from Pika 1.0?

Demi Guo and Chenlin Meng, former Ph.D. students in Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, launched the first version of Pika on the separate messaging app Discord in late 2023.

Since then, the product has evolved into a sophisticated tool generating millions of videos each week. According to the company, its top users on Discord spend up to 10 hours a day creating videos with its offering.

This engagement has also drawn investor attention, with the company raising $20 million in quick succession across pre-seed and seed rounds led by Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross. 

Other investors who participated in the earlier rounds were Elad Gil, Adam D’Angelo, Andrej Karpathy, Clem Delangue, Craig Kallman and Alex Chung.

“We know firsthand that making high-quality content is difficult and expensive, and we built Pika to give everyone, from home users to film professionals, the tools to bring high-quality video to life. Our vision is to enable anyone to be the director of their stories and to bring out the creator in all of us,” Guo, who is the CEO of the company said in a statement. 

With Pika 1.0, the next version of the video AI platform powered by a new AI model, Pika Labs is giving users an easy web interface instead of the Discord app, where they can create and edit higher-quality videos with simple text prompts.

All a user has to do is prompt the tool with the style envisioned and the model behind will produce the result in seconds. It can produce 3D animations, live-action content, cinematic videos and even change moving objects (like a horse or an outfit) with simple text prompts. 

Beyond text-to-video, Pika 1.0 will support image-to-video and video-to-video capabilities, allowing users to transform their existing content into different video styles.

For instance, it could bring a meme to life or convert a cinematic video into an animated one. Users can also upload the content and give text prompts to perform edits like expanding the canvas or aspect ratio of the clip, directing the model to predict content beyond the original video. It can even add new objects, props and characters to videos, delivering a whole new video creation experience.

How to access Pika 1.0?

Pika Labs wrote in a blog post that the new version of its platform will be available on Discord as well as through a dedicated website accessible on mobile and desktop. Users can head over to the page and sign up, although it is important to note that the new video AI smarts will not be available right away. The company has a waitlist and will gradually open access to the signed-up users.

This will prevent its systems from being overloaded.

Growing competition in video AI space

With this funding, which takes Pika Labs’ total capital raised to $55 million and valuation to nearly $200 million, the company has clearly positioned itself as a notable player in the video AI space – which has been gaining traction in recent months. Just recently, Stability AI debuted Stable Video Diffusion models capable of generating high-quality clips from images. However, that offering is limited by the length of videos being generated. 

Pika’s AI tool, on its part, can generate longer clips. In fact, it also allows users to extend the length of existing videos they upload. However, it remains to be seen how good the quality of the extended video comes out to be.

Other notable players in the video AI game are Runway and Adobe. The former is already being used to add motion to memes driving virality while the latter is experimenting with capabilities like video upscaling and object editing for its Creative Cloud products. Adobe has also reportedly acquired Rephrase AI to up its video-generation game.

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