Lex, an AI-powered writing software, in the present day mentioned it has raised a $2.75 million seed spherical led by True Ventures. The corporate has been spun out of Each, which Lex’s CEO Nathan Baschez helped begin.
Baschez described Lex as a “fashionable writing platform,” emphasizing that ‘fashionable’ on this case means inclusive of AI. Within the CEO’s eyes, the usage of AI in writing instruments is the continuation of the centuries-long arc of enhancements to the observe of writing.
In line with Baschez, most writers in the present day don’t use AI of their workflow. That declare tracks with what I’ve heard from my pals within the bigger writing group. Lex, then, has to not solely construct a strong writing service in a market that has a lot of incumbent and low-cost instruments, but additionally get writers considering utilizing expertise that some people anticipate to remove their jobs.
So how does Lex meld AI right into a writing software in order that writers would need to use it? After testing Lex, digesting its onboarding materials and chatting with the corporate, it seems that the service needs to create a super-clean writing interface that has a good variety of options that energy customers — individuals who write lots, I suppose — anticipate. The AI is included as a technique to prolong and easy out the consumer’s workflow.
In observe, you get formatting instruments and markdown-based shortcuts that allow you to simply add sub-heads and the like. The AI steps in if you both decelerate or if there’s a halt in your writing course of. “Should you ever get caught,” Lex explains to new customers, “simply hit CMD+Enter or sort +++, and GPT-3 will fill in what it thinks ought to come subsequent.”
You can also ask Lex’s AI questions within feedback, which is neat. You’ll be able to ask it to rewrite one thing to be shorter, or, in a single instance the corporate shared, get it to test if a selected sentence is extraneous or not. Lex can also generate headlines for paperwork, a characteristic that I’ve seen different AI-imbued digital instruments supply.
So is that this yet one more software that can assist writers keep away from writing? Sorta. Baschez’s introductory materials explains that the AI instruments will at occasions generate “garbage,” however that the founder is “discovering [its AI-generated output] actually useful” to get him unstuck when he’s undecided what to jot down subsequent.
Lex’s “AI roadmap” says extra options that can add the power to “rephrase a sentence, generate a abstract, and extra” are coming.
What about privateness? On condition that Lex is a writing software, ought to writers fear about their phrases being absorbed into the system? Baschez advised TechCrunch in an electronic mail that Lex is “not utilizing any consumer content material for coaching,” although he added that the corporate might need to “practice (or advantageous tune)” its personal fashions sooner or later.
When it does attain that time, the CEO mentioned the corporate intends to be “very clear about it and cautious to not embrace something our customers wouldn’t need included.”
That appears affordable. For now, with OpenAI’s fashions, Baschez thinks the corporate’s privateness insurance policies fulfill “most customers’ wants.”
The AI stuff is cool, however there was one factor about this app that made me need to hold utilizing it: It has no historic baggage. I discover it odd that many fashionable phrase processors like Google Docs and Phrase retain a bias towards pagination — the UX is meant for printing paperwork onto letter-sized paper. Lex, in distinction, does away with all that.
That’s not a small level. Baschez advised TechCrunch that as a result of he’s constructing one thing that “can afford to be somewhat bit extra targeted [and] opinionated” than current writing instruments, he can excise cruft that always clutters writing instruments. Small tweaks comparable to these, I feel, could make the writing expertise really feel much less like a digitized real-world course of and extra such as you’re utilizing a software meant for writing in the present day.
From thought to startup
It’s not vastly shocking to see Lex being spun out from Each, a subscription media service targeted on expertise and productiveness subjects. Baschez advised TechCrunch that after taking parental go away, he had a “actual itch to jot down software program once more,” which led to him tinkering with GPT-3 and arising with the idea for Lex.
Lex began as a nights-and-weekends mission, and preliminary curiosity was sturdy, per Baschez. With a easy YouTube video and some writers on board, Lex signed up round 25,000 customers in its first 24 hours. That preliminary burst of curiosity additionally caught TechCrunch’s consideration. An AI-powered product getting early traction is nearly catnip for buyers in in the present day’s market, so it’s comprehensible that Lex was in a position to elevate capital so quickly.
However Lex doesn’t intend to go on a hiring spree. As an alternative, Baschez intends to “hold the workforce actually small till [it is] painful.” ‘Rent when it hurts’ just isn’t a brand new method to preserving headcount low, however it’s one which we haven’t heard of a lot in recent times. An lively concentrate on limiting burn means the corporate’s modest fundraise ought to hold it going for a “actually, actually very long time,” Baschez mentioned, and the corporate intends to begin charging for its product briefly order.
What’s going to it price to make use of, although? That’s a query price pondering. Earlier than the generative pre-trained transformer-led AI revolution, the enterprise and startup communities talked usually concerning the gross margins AI-powered software program merchandise would have the ability to command. They hoped that whereas it will be costly to coach and run AI fashions, these prices would decline over time and could possibly be offset by a bigger variety of clients, limiting their impression on profitability. Certainly, they prayed that software program corporations may have the ability to retain their SaaS-like gross margins.
However in the present day, we all know that some common massive language fashions (LLMs) cost utilization charges. If you wish to make a bunch of API calls utilizing your AI implementations, these prices can add up. In fact, you possibly can use open supply LLMs as an alternative, however that’s not all the time a good suggestion for startups, which can desire commercially obtainable instruments over constructing an in-house LLM operate. In flip, that signifies that the price of internet hosting customers received’t be insignificant. Ergo, Lex won’t price one thing like $2 per thirty days.
Nonetheless, Baschez doesn’t assume that Lex’s paid tier will price far more than a pair $10 payments. And if it builds an enterprise plan, Lex will quickly resemble a fairly run-of-the-mill SaaS firm.
There isn’t a scarcity of AI-powered digital providers, however what I like about Lex is that it makes for a great writing software that’s quick, easy to make use of and makes use of AI to assist writers as an alternative of attempting to supplant them. With money available and clear product-market curiosity, Lex could possibly be an fascinating startup to observe.