Ritual, a San Francisco-based startup dedicated to creating a decentralized platform for artificial intelligence (AI), has successfully raised $25 million in a seed funding round. The funding was led by venture capital firm Archetype, and additional support came from Robot Ventures and Canonical.
The primary objective of Ritual is to democratize access to AI technology on a global scale. Currently, significant advancements and access to high-quality AI, such as large language models, are predominantly concentrated within major tech corporations like Google, Microsoft, and Meta. Ritual aims to disrupt this paradigm by constructing an open and decentralized network designed for hosting, training, and running AI models.
Niraj Pant, co-founder of Ritual, highlighted the startup’s mission in a press release, stating, “The consolidation of AI among a small group of powerful companies poses a significant threat to the future of technology. We founded Ritual to end the ecosystem’s reliance on the few, to open access to this critical infrastructure, and ensure a future of building better AI.”
Democratizing Access to Cutting-Edge AI
Ritual’s network establishes connections among distributed computing devices, enabling the collective power of these devices to support various AI workloads. This inclusive approach allows individuals, not just large tech companies with extensive computing resources, to actively participate in the training and execution of AI models.
Facilitating accessibility, an API layer provides convenient entry points to models hosted on the network. A proof system ensures guarantees regarding computational integrity. The decentralized nature of Ritual not only makes it resistant to censorship but also inherently embeds features such as data privacy and verifiability.
Ash Egan, the founder of Archetype, expressed enthusiasm for Ritual’s vision, stating, “Ritual is building the leading decentralized AI network, expanding the potential for every single company – from crypto to enterprise – to innovate on this new frontier of technology.”
Ritual’s distinctive decentralized approach opens doors to various use cases, including autonomous agents and the integration of AI with decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, facilitating dynamic governance.
One notable claim from the startup is that it represents the first platform allowing smart contracts to seamlessly incorporate AI capabilities. Enterprises can also leverage the network for private fine-tuning and inference using foundation models.
Strong Team to Realize the Vision
Ritual was co-founded by Niraj Pant, a former investor at Polychain Capital, and Akilesh Potti, who transitioned from a machine learning researcher to a quant at Palantir.
The startup boasts a 15-person team composed of experts from prominent technology companies such as OpenAI, Coinbase, Palantir, and others.
With the newly secured funding, Ritual plans to expand and enhance its network, make key hires, and foster the growth of its user ecosystem. The company has set its sights on an alpha launch scheduled for early 2024.
Ritual has also enlisted the expertise of advisors in the form of NEAR Protocol co-founder Illia Polosukhin, EigenLayer founder Sreeram Kannan, and Robot Ventures GP Tarun Chitra. Polosukhin expressed optimism about Ritual’s mission, stating, “Ritual is building long-term infrastructure for safe and secure open-source AI innovation across all industries, and has the potential to power the next wave of growth and innovation.”