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AI startup Rasa receives double-digit million sum

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AI startup Rasa receives double-digit million sum

The Silicon Valley startup Rasa, founded in Berlin, has successfully completed a large Series C round after a mass layoff last made headlines in 2022.

Rasa’s founder and Berliner Alexander Weidauer has only been working as a strategic advisor to the company since last year. Rasa

The German-American AI startup Rasa has received the equivalent of around 28 million euros (30 million US dollars) in a Series C financing round. The round is led by the Stepstone Group and Paypal Ventures. According to the company, existing investors have also taken part again. These include Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) – the VC of the two well-known US entrepreneurs Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz – as well as the two Californian VCs Accel and Basis Set Ventures. CEO Melissa Gordon statesthat the new capital should help to expand Rasa’s market lead: “We will use the financing to advance our technological leadership and strengthen our market presence.”

Rasa develops software that allows companies to build their own AI chatbots and voice assistants that support their customers, for example, with online banking or when they want to manage their insurance. Rasa’s customers say they include “one of the leading banks in the USA”, the neobank N26, the telecommunications companies T-Mobile and Orange and the insurance group Ergo.

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Andreessen Horowitz joined in 2020

Rasa wants to stand out from other chatbot developers by using the full potential of the so-called Large Language Model (LLM) – i.e. building chatbots that have natural-looking conversations and actually interact with customers. On the other hand, Rasa wants to enable companies to maintain control over the course of conversations and what the bots say.

Rasa was founded in Berlin in 2016 by Alexander Weidauer. In 2019, the company’s headquarters were relocated to Silicon Valley. One of the most important successes came a year later: Rasa not only managed to close a Series B for 26 million dollars (at that time that was the equivalent of around 23 million euros). The AI ​​startup also managed to get the well-known US investor Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) on board – that was like an accolade.

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In 2022, the startup laid off almost half of its employees

In 2022, the company’s rise came to an end for the time being: Rasa laid off 59 people – that corresponded to around 40 percent of the workforce – on a single day in mid-February. At the time, Rasa stated in a statement to Gründerszene that the company had to “significantly adjust operational planning” in order to create the necessary runway “so that we can continue our mission.” The runway is the length of time until a startup runs out of money.

Insiders said they were too optimistic about technical progress. Apparently too many people were hired too quickly. The startup itself also confirmed this view: “Unfortunately, we scaled the company too early, too quickly.” Founder and CEO Weidauer gave up his CEO position at the same time and became the company’s Chief Strategy Officer. According to Linkedin, he has been the company’s strategic advisor since August 2023 – so he probably no longer has any operational tasks.

Now things seem to be going smoothly again. Even though the market for chatbots was already huge in 2022, Rasa may still have benefited from the AI ​​hype surrounding Chat GPT last year. In addition to the successful completion of the large financing round, Rasa, according to its own information, doubled its sales last year (2023) compared to the previous year (2022).

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