Originally published June 23, 2020 on the Rasa Developer Blog.
Our mission at Rasa is to empower all makers to build AI assistants that work for everyone. We envision a world where conversational AI makes technology as easy to use as having a conversation.
This funding will allow us to take bigger, bolder steps toward our mission, doubling down on our three key pillars: open source, community, and applied research. And what a community we have!
There is a story behind every single community member
Alan and I started Rasa in my kitchen in Berlin, trying to build our own AI assistant and getting frustrated with the tools we had access to as developers. So we decided to build our own and open source them.
Fast forward to today, the sheer size, engagement and commitment of our amazing community blows us away. Over 450 people have contributed since we released our first open source library three and a half years ago. Over 10,000 developers have signed up for our developer forum, which we launched only 2 years ago. Our tools have been downloaded more than 3 million times by developers from all over the world, and we continue to see new local Rasa Community Chapters popping up everywhere.
Rasa is used across a huge variety of industries, use cases and human languages: from startups like Doodle, Eddy Travels, and Unique.ai, to high growth companies like Dialogue, N26, and PicPay, to leading Fortune 500s such as Adobe, HCA Healthcare, and Travelers. Six of the ten largest banks in the world, five of the ten largest global telecommunications firms, and five of the ten largest insurance companies use our tools to build mission-critical AI assistants.
It’s easy to get stuck in spreadsheets looking at growth data. What really matters are the stories behind every community member. Here are just a few:
- Julian, a Rasa Super Hero, who you can find absolutely everywhere: answering questions on the forum, giving a talk at L3-AI, or building Anna, a voice-controlled avatar
- Juste, who we first met 2 years ago when she created a 2 hour tutorial (which now has almost 100,000 views!) and now leads our Developer Relations team
- Charles, who used to ship web and mobile enterprise applications before building an AI assistant that helps a large US health insurance company’s members by answering questions about their health plan
There are so many more amazing stories to tell, from students using our tools for their Master’s thesis, teams across the world building assistants to support education on COVID-19, and making assistants more accessible to people with dementia. There are too many to list.
Educating developers worldwide to build better conversational AI
Conversational AI and machine learning are new to most developers and there is a lot to learn: from building your first chatbot all the way to tweaking hyperparameters of a model. We help folks learn with blog posts, events, workshops and YouTube videos. We’re blown away by the insatiable appetite for education. For example, monthly engagement on our YouTube channel has exploded since the launch of our Rasa Masterclass in October last year, which alone has been viewed over 80,000 times!
Last September, our global community met in San Francisco for our first Rasa Developer Summit. It was a big hit and sold out with over 250 attendees. Just last week, we hosted our first fully virtual, industry summit: the Level 3 AI Assistant conference with more than 4,300 registrants from all around the world, 50+ speakers, and 40+ sessions. We also started our new virtual certification workshops and developers love it.
Building the standard infrastructure layer for conversational AI
We believe that conversational AI has the potential to make all software universally accessible. But we know from our own experience and from working closely with developers that there is a lot of work ahead of us (learn more about the 5 Levels of Conversational AI). Conversational AI won’t be solved overnight by discovering a magic algorithm.
We will use the funding to double down on building the standard infrastructure layer for conversational AI, as well as a global, supportive, and diverse community:
- Champion open source: Open source is in our DNA, and we have big plans. Rasa Open Source 2.0 is expected to ship later this year, and we’ll provide more open source starter packs and tools for developers.
- Nurture a community of makers: We’ve seen an insatiable appetite for educational content. You can expect more amazing YouTube videos, tutorials, events and workshops. We also invest in our Solutions Engineering team, helping users with questions on the forum and working closely with our commercial customers.
- Ship applied research to solve real problems: Our Research team invents new approaches and brings them into our codebase for everyone to use. Our new NLU architecture, DIET, is already used in production in dozens of languages. We’re excited to welcome Adam Lopez, a leading researcher in the field of NLP, to the team as we establish a research hub in Edinburgh.
We’re really excited to be partnering with Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), bringing deep experience in conversational AI as well as building developer-focused and commercial open source companies. We will be working closely with a16z General Partner Martin Casado, who was previously the co-founder and CTO Nicira (acquired by VMware for $1.26B in 2012), and will join the Rasa board. We're also super stoked to welcome the Cultural Leadership Fund (CLF) as a new Rasa investor, a strategic fund designed to bring African American cultural leaders onto the cap tables of new technology companies.
It’s been an exciting ride so far, and we wanted to thank all of you, our amazing community members, as well as our exceptional Rasa team members, early customers and investors that supported us along the way. But we’re really just getting started so let’s get back to work :) - we’re hiring (remotely across Europe and the US) and you can find ways to get involved and how to become a contributor here.
— Alan, Alex and the whole Rasa team