AI startup Hugging Face valued at $4.5 billion in latest round of funding

(Reuters) - AI startup Hugging Face said on Thursday it was valued at $4.5 billion in a $235-million funding round backed by technology heavyweights, including Salesforce, Alphabet's Google and Nvidia.

The latest round of funding outlines the rapidly growing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), which has been hailed by many as the next frontier of technology and has attracted some of the biggest investors in Silicon Valley.

Following the launch of OpenAI's popular chatbot ChatGPT, several AI startups like Microsoft-backed Inflection AI and Google-backed Runway have raised funds.

The race to the top among leading technology companies has also upped bets on Nvidia whose chip designs are being widely used in generative AI such as ChatGPT. Its shares have tripled in value so far this year and were set to hit an all-time high after Wednesday's results.

Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Qualcomm, IBM, Amazon and Ashton Kutcher-backed venture capital firm Sound Ventures also participated in Hugging Face's latest funding round.

The company, which provides an open-source platform for building applications using machine learning technologies, said it will use the funds to double down on hiring and invest in the technology. It currently has a headcount of 170.

Thanks to the boom in demand, the company's revenue had been increasing and was on track to jump five times this year, Hugging Face's co-founder and CEO Clément Delangue said.

"In five years, every tech company will be an AI company," Delangue added.

(Reporting by Shubhendu Satish Deshmukh and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Shweta Agarwal)