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Decentralized AIDecentralized AI
Ritual raises $25M to build a decentralized AI network. Image by ipopba, Adobe Stock.

Ritual, a startup building a decentralized platform for artificial intelligence, has raised $25 million in a seed funding round. The funding was led by venture capital firm Archetype, with participation from Robot Ventures and Canonical.

The San Francisco-based startup seeks to provide universal access to AI technology. Currently, innovation and access to high-quality AI like large language models is concentrated at big tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Meta. Ritual wants to change that by building an open, decentralized network for hosting, training, and running AI models.

“The consolidation of AI among a small group of powerful companies poses a significant threat to the future of technology,” said Niraj Pant, co-founder of Ritual in a press release. “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 connects distributed computing devices to power various AI workloads, allowing anyone to participate in training and running models, not just large tech companies with massive computing resources.

An API layer provides easy access to models hosted on the network. A proof system offers guarantees around computational integrity. The decentralized nature of Ritual also makes it resistant to censorship and provides inherent data privacy and verifiability.

“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,” said Ash Egan, founder of Archetype.

Unique use cases enabled by Ritual’s decentralized approach include autonomous agents and integrating AI with decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols to enable dynamic governance.

The startup claims it’s the first platform allowing smart contracts to natively integrate AI capabilities. Enterprises can also leverage the network for private fine-tuning and inference with foundation models.

Strong Team to Realize the Vision

Ritual was founded by Pant, former investor at Polychain Capital, and Akilesh Potti, a machine learning researcher turned quant at Palantir.

The 15-person team combines experts from OpenAI, Coinbase, Palantir, and other leading technology companies.

Ritual plans to use the new funding to build out the network, hire key roles, and grow its ecosystem of users. The company is targeting an alpha launch in early 2024.

Advisors include AI and crypto experts like NEAR Protocol co-founder Illia Polosukhin, EigenLayer founder Sreeram Kannan, and Robot Ventures GP Tarun Chitra.

“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,” said Polosukhin.

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