Truly transformative technologies build new markets, upend existing ones, and impact every aspect of how we live, work, and play. At Lightspeed, we’ve been fortunate to have witnessed and participated in the rise of multiple transformative technologies over the last 25 years – from the rise of the internet to the rise of mobile, and now the rise of AI – specifically generative AI.
These transformative cycles are both powerful and chaotic at the same time. And yet, we’ve seen incredible Founders time and again connect the dots between the emergence of a technical innovation and the massive opportunity it unlocks. This happens up and down the stack, across sectors and geographies. A similar narrative is playing out in AI right now. We have been working with extraordinary companies building AI-native applications across sectors, such as enterprise SaaS, robotics, consumer, healthcare, and fintech, as well as engineering the underlying infrastructure to help develop and run AI-based applications. The following image highlights some of these amazing teams, and the sector they are building in. You can also read more about each teams’ ambitious vision for the future on our companies page.
There’s no pre-determined sequence in which transformative technologies play out in the broader technology ecosystem. Often, things start with the emergence of one new infrastructure capability which catches the attention of developers, who then start building on top of it. This virtuous cycle of applications pushes the bounds of the infrastructure, accelerating further innovation, leading to ever more broader application of that technology within applications, and so on.
A similar cycle of infra and apps making each other better is playing out in AI. OpenAI’s introduction of transformer based models (GPT2/3) led to the emergence of applications in areas such as copywriting, blog writing etc. The increased developer interest led to continued innovation by OpenAI (GPT3/3.5/4, ChatGPT, Whisper) but also led to a Cambrian explosion of open source models from Meta, Stability, Mosaic, Databricks, and many more. This then feeds rapid incorporation of generative AI within applications, as well as the rise of generative AI operational, security, and observability platforms.
In subsequent articles, we’ll expand on the major markets outlined in the above map to outline the areas we are actively investing in, and the themes we are excited about. Our focus at Lightspeed is on having prepared minds, so we can connect the dots and dream together with our Founders. And we aren’t done yet – we’d love to talk to you if you have a strong point of view on how AI will create opportunities in this rapidly changing economy.
More Reading from Lightspeed
- Eight AI Startups Winning The Race For Tech Talent – Meet the Generative Eight — and The Next Gen of AI companies building the future
- Enterprise Applications
- SaaS 4.0: Say Hello to The Era of Cognition – Generative AI will eventually be a native part of every enterprise software company. Here’s how we see the winners emerging.
- AI Infrastructure
- Will Enterprise AI Models be “Winner Take All”? – How a Cambrian explosion of models creates a broad set of opportunities in AI Infrastructure
- Meet Europe’s Next Great Generative AI Startup: Mistral AI – Founded by key members of Meta’s and Alphabet’s AI research teams, Mistral AI has closed a seed round of over €105 million, led by Lightspeed.
- Contextual AI: Making Enterprise-Ready LLMs Available For All – Announcing Lightspeed’s latest investment in the AI space
- Fintech x AI: The Lightspeed View – The future of finance: Not all AI is created equal
- Startups v. Incumbents—The Battle For AI’s Application Layer – If your AI product is going head to head with an incumbent, their distribution advantage will probably kill your startup…unless you fight back with a different game.
- Fictional Reality—Why the Real Metaverse Doesn’t Require a Headset – AI is letting us live out alternative realities on the digital platforms where we already spend our time
- Gaming x AI Market Map: The Infinite Power of Play – An (inevitably incomplete) overview of the emerging landscape of artificial intelligence and procedural generation in interactive media
- Generative Event Recaps
- Scott Belsky on Creativity in Generative AI – An AI-enhanced transcript of the conversation with Adobe’s Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Design and Emerging Products
- How Founders Can Spot the Next Big Opportunity in AI – Spotify’s VP of Personalization believes there is one underrated trait that all founders need for success.
- Fintech in AI: Five Lessons For Founders – Takeaways from our conversation with Grace Liu, Alloy’s Director of Product; Sasha Orloff, founder and CEO of Puzzle.io; and Leif Abraham, co-founder and co-CEO of Public.com.
- Lightspeed AI Reading List
Companies on our Portfolio Map (57 and counting)
- AI/ML Ops
- Consumer, Commerce
- B2B Enterprise
- Security Observability GRC, Safety
- Vertical Applications
- Gaming, Media
- Autonomy & Robotics
- AI Infra and Foundation Models