Vespa.ai, the robust big data serving engine that recently emerged as an independent venture following its spin-out from Yahoo (a disclaimer: TechCrunch’s parent company), has successfully closed a fresh round of funding. Blossom Capital spearheaded the $31 million investment in Vespa, with CEO Jon Bratseth highlighting the company’s intention to use the funds for the expansion of Vespa as a standalone enterprise, bolstering engineering capabilities, and accelerating the deployment of enhanced features for all Vespa users.
Bratseth emphasized in an email interview with TechCrunch, “In particular, we’ll expedite the development of features that facilitate the creation of applications integrating AI models with exclusive data sets. Vespa has a 20-year legacy, and we are poised to make a lasting impact for years to come.”
Vespa traces its origins back to Yahoo’s acquisition of Overture, a paid search service provider, and AlltheWeb.com, a Norwegian search engine, in 2005. The team at AlltheWeb transformed its search technology into a versatile tool capable of real-time computation over extensive data sets, eventually giving rise to Vespa. Over the years, Yahoo expanded Vespa’s capabilities, enabling it to process various forms of input, personalize content based on user interactions, and adapt to the insights derived from machine learning algorithms.
In 2017, Yahoo took the initiative to open source Vespa, fostering a robust developer community around the software both internally and externally, a move that has evidently paid dividends. Presently, numerous leading brands, including Spotify, OkCupid, and Wix, rely on either the open source version of Vespa or the cloud-hosted, fully managed product, Vespa Cloud, to drive various aspects of their operations.
Bratseth shed light on Vespa’s wide-ranging applications, stating, “Vespa facilitates a diverse array of use cases, from search functions for both human users and AI, to online personalization and ad serving. Its adaptability allows it to cater to the needs of global enterprises, enabling efficient data processing and targeted ad delivery for a substantial user base.”
While several open source alternatives such as Solr and Elasticsearch exist, Bratseth asserts that Vespa surpasses the competition by offering advanced functionalities, including the innovative “vector streaming search” mode, designed to significantly reduce the costs associated with retrieving personal data such as emails and documents. Vespa’s comprehensive services enable clients to achieve superior results with intricate scoring and relevance at scale, addressing the evolving challenges faced by AI applications, including large language models.
With Yahoo’s reduced involvement in Vespa, Bratseth envisions a promising future for the company, emphasizing the potential for expansion in cloud services and the seamless transition of existing Vespa users to Vespa Cloud, underscoring the company’s trajectory as a startup with substantial growth potential based on its extensive enterprise usage.
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