July 13, 2024
Perplexity is raising $250M+ at a $2.5B-$3B valuation for its AI search platform, sources say


Amid ongoing controversy about handling of media articles and original reporting, AI-powered search startup Perplexity now displays results for factual queries such as weather and time at a place, currency conversion, and answers to simple math queries directly through cards. This is a move to stop Perplexity users from going to other search engines like Google for such results.

To be clear, Perplexity could already fetch this data from the web and display results in a descriptive way, but the company is adding some visual flair to these results to make them more prominent and quick. On X, CEO Aravind Srinivas said that these basic queries now should work fast on the search engine.

Notably, Srinivas said last year that Google handles basic queries like weather, time and live sports scores well, and his company had a lot of work to do. While Google displays a lot of card-based info, including sports tournament tables and basic movie information, Perplexity also moves in the direction of displaying direct results instead of fetching from other sources.

For these new search results, such as weather info and currency conversions, Perplexity doesn’t link to any sources. Last month, Srinivas mentioned that the search startup was working with a company called Tako, an AI search engine for visualizing information, to display information such as stock prices.

Perplexity faced criticism from the media earlier this month, when Forbes executive editor John Paczkowski pointed out that the search engine showed Forbes’ original, paywalled reporting about ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s drone company in search results without proper attribution and with near identical writing language in Perplexity’s recently launched Pages feature. Forbes said that its reporting was also mentioned prominently in Perplexity’s AI-generated podcast.

The argument from various critics is that without proper credits and getting enough link-back traffic in return, AI-powered search engines generating (or re-generating) media content will eat up publications’ business.

Last week, the Amazon-backed startup’s chief business officer, Dmitry Shevelenko, told Semafor that the company was already exploring revenue-sharing deals with publications. He said that these deals would allow the publishers to earn recurring income.





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