Andrew Ng plans to raise $120M for next AI Fund

AI big shot Andrew Ng's AI Fund, a startup incubator that backs small teams of experts looking to solve key problems using AI, plans to raise upward of $120 million for its second effort.

A filing with the SEC shows that the AI Fund's second fund, AI Venture Fund II, has so far amassed $69.75 million from 13 partners -- leaving around $50 million to be invested. The AI Fund's PR declined to comment.

Ng, the founder of the Google Brain deep learning project, co-founder of Coursera, and recent Amazon board appointee, was one of the most recognizable names in the AI community when he became Baidu’s chief scientist in 2014. He left Baidu in 2017 to jumpstart a number of AI ventures, including the course and Landing AI, a startup developing AI tools targeting manufacturing companies.

Ng launched the AI Fund in 2018 with $175 million, serving as the incubator's GP and leading its direction. (On the aforementioned SEC filing, he's named as the "managing member of the general partner" for AI Venture Fund II.) The idea was to provide funding at the seed and Series A stages of a company's life cycle, allowing teams to work in relative stealth until they were ready -- and connecting them with Ng’s extensive professional network.

Greylock Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Sequoia Capital and SoftBank Group were among the AI Fund's initial backers. Crunchbase lists 38 portfolio companies, including AI observability platform WhyLabs, Ng's own Landing AI, and AI app-building tool Baseten.

At $120 million, AI Venture Fund II would be considerably smaller than the first AI Fund vehicle. Still, it's more than double what Ng reportedly originally hoped to raise -- $50 million -- for the AI Fund's follow-up.

Take it as another potential sign that the AI bubble -- particularly the buzzy generative AI segment within it -- may be deflating.

PitchBook recently reported that, for two consecutive quarters, generative AI dealmaking at the earliest stages has declined, plummeting 76% from its Q3 2023 peak. VC deal value for pre-seed and seed-stage deals fell in Q1 2024 to $122.9 million, down from Q3’s high of $517.7 million.

Enterprise reluctance could be to blame.

In a pair of recent surveys from Boston Consulting Group, about half of the respondents -- all C-suite executives -- said that they don’t expect generative AI to bring about substantial productivity gains and that they’re worried about the potential for mistakes and data compromises arising from generative AI-powered tools. As my colleague Ron Miller wrote last week, businesses are finding that generative AI is harder to implement at scale than they once assumed -- and that execs are exercising caution.