HomeArtificial IntelligenceEric Schmidt-backed Augment, a rival to GitHub Copilot, is launching from stealth...

Eric Schmidt-backed Augment, a rival to GitHub Copilot, is launching from stealth with $252 million

AI is accelerating programming – and developers are embracing it.

In a recent StackOverflow survey, 44% of software developers said they do that use AI tools as a part of their development processes now and 26% plan to achieve this soon. gardener Estimates that over half of corporations are currently testing or have already used AI-driven coding assistants and that 75% of developers will use coding assistants in some form by 2028.

Ex-Microsoft software developer Igor Ostrovsky believes that soon there can be no developer left notT use AI of their workflows. “Software development stays a difficult and all too often tedious and frustrating task, especially at scale,” he told TechCrunch. “AI can improve software quality, team productivity, and help restore the enjoyment of programming.”

So Ostrovsky decided to develop the AI-powered coding platform that he wanted to make use of himself.

This platform is Multiply, and on Wednesday it got here out of obscurity with $252 million in funding, reaching a near-unicorn valuation ($977 million) after the IPO. With investments from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and VCs akin to Index Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Innovation Endeavors and Meritech Capital, Augment goals to disrupt the fledgling marketplace for generative AI coding technologies.

“Most corporations are dissatisfied with the programs they produce and use; “Too often, software is fragile, complex and expensive to keep up, with development teams bogged down with long backlogs of feature requests, bug fixes, security patches, integration requests, migrations and upgrades,” said Ostrovsky. “Augment has each the very best team and the very best recipe for enabling programmers and their organizations to deliver high-quality software faster.”

Ostrovsky spent nearly seven years at Microsoft before joining Pure Storage, a startup developing flash data storage hardware and software products, as a founding engineer. While at Microsoft, Ostrovsky worked on components of Midori, a next-generation operating system that the corporate never released but whose concepts have found their way into other Microsoft projects over the past decade.

In 2022, Ostrovsky and Guy Gur-Ari, previously an AI researcher at Google, joined forces to form Augment's MVP. To fill the startup's leadership positions, Ostrovsky and Gur-Ari brought in Scott Dietzen, ex-CEO of Pure Storage, and Dion Almaer, former Google engineering director and VP of engineering at Shopify.

Augment stays a wierd secret operation.

In our conversation, Ostrovsky wasn't willing to say much concerning the user experience and even the generative AI models that drive Augment's features (whatever they might be) – apart from to say that Augment is a few form of fine-tuned “industry-leading” open Models used.

He said how Augment plans to earn a living: standard software-as-a-service subscriptions. Pricing and other details can be announced later this 12 months, Ostrovsky added, closer to Augment's scheduled GA release.

“Our funding provides a few years of headroom to proceed constructing what we consider is the very best team in enterprise AI,” he said. “We are accelerating product development and expanding Augment’s product, engineering and go-to-market capabilities as the corporate prepares for rapid growth.”

Rapid growth could also be Augment's best probability to make waves in an increasingly cutthroat industry.

Virtually every tech giant offers its own version of an AI coding assistant. Microsoft has GitHub Copilot, which is by far probably the most entrenched with over 1.3 million paying individual and 50,000 enterprise customers as of February. Amazon has CodeWhisperer from AWS. And Google has Gemini Code Assist, recently renamed from Duet AI for Developers.

Elsewhere there may be a flood of coding assistance startups – Magic, Tabnine, Codegen, Refact, TabbyML, Sweep, Laredo and knowledge (which allegedly just raised $175 million) to call a couple of. Dishes And JetBrains, which recently developed the Kotlin programming language Approved their very own. The same goes for Sentry (albeit with a more cybersecurity-focused approach).

Can all of them – plus Augment now – work together in harmony? It seems unlikely. The enormous computing costs alone make the business of AI coding assistants a challenge. Overruns related to training and delivery models forced AI generative coding startup Kite to shut in December 2022. Even Copilot loses money – starting from about $20 monthly to about $80 monthly per user. after to the Wall Street Journal.

Ostrovsky suggests that there may be already momentum behind Augment – ​​he claims that “hUndreds” of software developers at “dozens” of corporations, including payments startup Keeta (also backed by Eric Schmidt), are using Augment in early access. But will acceptance proceed? That is indeed the million dollar query.

I also wonder if Augment has taken any steps to handle the technical setbacks that code-generating AI faces, particularly related to vulnerabilities.

An evaluation by GitClear, developer of the code evaluation tool of the identical name, found that coding wizards result in more buggy code being pushed into codebases, causing headaches for software maintainers. Security researchers have warned that generative coding tools can do that strengthen existing bugs and exploits in projects. And Stanford researchers did found that developers who accept code recommendations from AI assistants are inclined to produce less secure code.

Then there's copyright to fret about.

Augment's models were undoubtedly trained on publicly available data, like all generative AI models – a few of which could also be copyrighted or subject to a restrictive license. Some providers have argued this Fair use doctrine protects them from copyright claims while introducing tools to curb potential infringements. But that hasn't stopped programmers submission Class Action Lawsuits Alleging Open Licensing and Intellectual Property Violations.

On all of this, Ostrovsky says, “Current AI coding assistants don’t adequately understand programmer intent, improve software quality, promote team productivity, or adequately protect mental property.” Augment's engineering team has extensive AI and systems knowledge. We are able to bring AI coding support innovations to developers and software teams.”

Augment is predicated in Palo Alto and currently employs roughly 50 people. Ostrovsky expects that number to double by the tip of the 12 months.


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