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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

Lex Has Bold AI Visions for Its Word Processor

Since launching earlier this year, Lex Inc. has achieved impressive growth, securing nearly $3 million in seed funding and amassing more than 200,000 users on its artificial intelligence-powered word processing and copy-editing platform.

The Woodland Hills-based company originally spun out of another startup called Every Media Inc. that was founded by Lex chief executive Nathan Baschez. Every Media publishes daily newsletters about business and technology.

Baschez originally launched Lex as a side project last October, and the platform saw 25,000 users sign up on its very first day. Users can type essays, blog posts, grant proposals or any text of their choice into Lex’s word processor, just as they would into Google Drive. The difference with Lex is the ability to call on its AI engine using natural language to critique writing, sum up paragraphs, offer tonal changes and more.

“I think the coolest thing about Lex right now is the way that you can chat with AI in the comments,” Baschez said.

Baschez partially attributes the initial spike of user sign-ups to some people having Lex, which is powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3 and GPT-4 language models, as their first experience with generative AI. The most interesting thing about Lex’s technology, according to Baschez, is the way the user can communicate with the AI as they would collaborate with a coworker on Google Drive. While OpenAI’s own ChatGPT model can offer feedback on writing and copy-editing services, Baschez said he feels it doesn’t give honest, actionable assistance.

“ChatGPT’s AI is way too easy on you … it just kind of wants to say, ‘you did awesome, here’s a gold star,’” Baschez said. “I spent a lot of time kind of experimenting to try and get (Lex) to pay attention to the right things, to give enough direct, real feedback, like the kind that a good editor would give.”

Lex can offer prompts to get things started or make specific edits such as whether more context is needed in certain sections or how the tone of the piece could be changed. The user can tailor the AI’s focus by selecting what mode of writing they are using, including options such as song lyrics, article writing or academic essays. Baschez said that he has seen a substantial number of Lex users use its AI to write marketing-oriented blog posts or creative texts like short stories, but that he has been particularly surprised by the amount of grant proposals being written with Lex.

“That was one that I threw in just kind of out of curiosity, but it’s much more popular than I would have thought,” Baschez said. “Its (typical usage) is honestly pretty broad for now, and that is one of the big things that we’re working on.”

The $2.75 million seed funding round was led by True Ventures, and the company said some of these funds will go towards hiring more engineers to expand Lex’s services. Lex’s chief of staff Jiarui Wang works as a contractor, and Baschez is currently the company’s single full-time employee.

One of Baschez’s big goals is develop a comprehensive “track changes” tool where Lex can make suggested edits to a document or text, and users can track the suggested edits and approve or deny its revisions. OpenAI charges about 3 cents for every 1,000 prompts generated by GPT-4 and Lex is free to users so long as their usage costs less than $20 per day in AI charges. Baschez said that this “limit” is very high and that he plans to roll out a paid subscription tier with near-unlimited access later this year, which would help offset the costs of licensing OpenAI’s products to power Lex.

Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk is a managing editor at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. She previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has done work with publications including The Orange County Register, The Real Deal and doityourself.com.

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