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Last winter, Demi Guo and her Stanford Ph.D. colleagues set out to create a film using AI, in the hopes of winning Runway’s “AI Film Festival” grand prize of $10,000. Despite their technical expertise, they were not successful. Guo found the process of using tools like Runway and Adobe’s Photoshop challenging and frustrating.

  • Pika Origins: Guo and Chenlin Meng, another Ph.D. student, left Stanford to start Pika, an AI video generator designed to be user-friendly. Currently, Pika’s software is in use by over 500,000 people, generating millions of videos each week.
  • Funding History: Investors have shown significant interest in Pika, which has raised $55M in three funding rounds. The latest round, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, values Pika Labs between $200M and $300M.
  • App Migration: Initially exclusive to Discord, Pika is now web-accessible, opening up to a wider audience.
  • Word from Investors: Pika’s rapid development and constant innovation have impressed investors, with Lightspeed partner Michael Mignano calling them “the fastest-moving team I’ve ever seen”.
  • Future Plans: Future plans for Pika include refining its AI model, developing algorithms for filtering copyrighted materials, and expanding the team.

Despite the product currently being free, Guo envisions a tiered subscription model for future monetization. She intends Pika to cater to everyday consumers, not just film production professionals. Given the existence of such a tool a year ago, Guo believes her Stanford team could have fared better at the AI Film Festival.

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