How CoreWeave became central to the AI industry within just months

August 1, 2023
dataset LAION

Cloud startup CoreWeave has emerged from relative obscurity to become a tremendous force in the GPU cloud domain, poised to make billions amidst the booming generative AI industry. 

Co-founder and chief strategy officer Brannin McBee described the company’s trajectory in an interview with VentureBeat, highlighting their astonishing progress since March this year. 

Established in 2017 by a trio of commodities traders who turned their cryptocurrency mining pastime into an Ethereum mining company, CoreWeave began life in a New Jersey data center. 

The founders used GPUs for verifying blockchain transactions. Recognizing the broader potential of their assets, by 2019, they had transitioned into building a specialized cloud infrastructure across 7 facilities to offer large-scale GPU clusters.

However, McBee says it wasn’t until March this year that CoreWeave’s cloud GPU expertise embedded itself at the core of big tech’s AI operations. 

A shortage of GPUs caused many AI companies to turn to CoreWeave, which led them to secure a $221 million Series B funding round in April, further enhanced by a $200 million investment the following month. 

Among the investors was Nvidia, one of CoreWeaves’s strongest supporters. According to McBee, CoreWeave generated $30 million in revenue last year, is projected to reach $500 million this year, and has nearly $2 billion already contracted for next year. 

Nvidia teamed up with Inflection and CoreWeave to build a cluster of 3,584 H100 chips which smashed AI training records across the boards in late June. 

Inflection AI, which recently secured a staggering $1.3 billion funding round, intends to construct the largest AI training stack on the planet, consisting of an eye-watering 22,000 Nvidia GPUs. 

Nvidia’s strategic decision to supply CoreWeave certainly bolstered CoreWeave’s competitive edge, especially as high-end AI chips are scarce in these sorts of volumes. 

McBee acknowledged this advantage, adding, “I would imagine that that certainly helps us in our constant effort to get more GPUs from Nvidia at the expense of our peers.”

What is CoreWeave, and what do they do?

CoreWeave is a tech startup specializing in cloud computing solutions that harness GPUs to accelerate workloads. Founded in 2017, it began as an Ethereum mining company, leveraging GPUs to verify blockchain transactions. 

As wind gathered behind the sails of AI, CoreWeave quickly realized their GPU stack was ideal for AI model training purposes. 

CoreWeave’s GPU-focused cloud services enable AI companies to outsource complex AI-specific workloads. 

This includes processing massive data sets, running complex simulations, and training sophisticated AI models. The company has earned a reputation for supplying GPU access, even during times of supply shortage in the industry.

Reflecting on the company’s journey and future possibilities, McBee said, “Walking into the data centers is the most amazing thing… So it’s just fun to be able to be in a business where you’re actually able to do this and scale it and power some of the coolest companies on the planet right now.”

In addition to CoreWeave, the industry boom is also spurring innovation across smaller startups queueing up to take advantage of increased demand for AI-specific products, hardware, and services.

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.

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