Hive has raised $85 million in a Series D round of funding that the startup has confirmed values it at $2 billion.
“At the heart of what we’re doing is building AI models that can help automate work that used to be manual,” said Kevin Guo, Hive’s co-founder and CEO. “We’ve heard about RPA and other workflow automation, and that is important too but what that has also established is that there are certain things that humans should not have to do that is very structural, but those systems can’t actually address a lot of other work that is unstructured.” Hive’s models help bring structure to that other work, and Guo claims they provide “near human level accuracy.”
The funding is being led by Glynn Capital, with General Catalyst, Tomales Bay Capital, Jericho Capital, and Bain & Company, and other unnamed investors participating. The company has now raised $121 million, making this latest round a particularly big leap.
The company has been somewhat under the radar since it was founded in 2017, in what appears to have been a pivot from founder Kevin Guo’s previous startup, a Q&A platform that was called Kiwi, which itself was a product of a project out of his time at Stanford. But since then it has quietly picked up some interesting customers, including Reddit, Yubo, Chatroulette, Omegle, and Tango, along with NBCUniversal, Interpublic Group, Walmart, Visa, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and more. In all it has some 100 customers and has grown more than 300% in the last year.
Hive had its start with image identification, and working with companies building autonomous systems. In fact, if you talk with Guo over Zoom, chances are you’ll get a screenshot of some of that work as a background, with cars darting across Golden Gate Bridge.
These days, however, most of Hive’s activity (pardon the pun) comes around moderation, some of which includes images, but others including text and streamed audio which is converted into text and then moderated as that would be. (The autonomous car modelling is still used as a backdrop, I believe, because it’s a little less disturbing than a content