Stability AI, the AI startup behind the text-to-image model Stable Diffusion, announced this week the release of StableStudio, an open source version of DreamStudio, Stability AI’s commercial AI-powered design suite.
In a blog post, Stability AI writes that it hopes to “advance a project [that] can surpass anything developed by a single company,” referring to recent investments in the generative AI space from tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.
“We believe the best way to extend that impressive reach is through open, community-driven development rather than a private version of a closed-source product,” said Stability AI. “Our goal is to work with the wider community to create a world-class user interface for generative AI [that] users have full control.”
DreamStudio was first envisioned as an animation studio for the open source generative AI art model Disco Diffusion. The focus shifted to image generation last year with the arrival of Stable Diffusion, bringing DreamStudio more in line with rival generative image platforms such as Midjourney and NightCafe.
The differences between StableStudio and DreamStudio are relatively small. StableStudio lacks DreamStudio branding or Stability-specific account features such as billing and API management, and backend API calls have been replaced with a plug-in system.
Stability AI emphasized that DreamStudio will become the preferred managed instance of StableStudio in the future and will stay up-to-date with StableStudio “whenever possible”.
“The release of StableStudio reiterates Stability AI’s commitment to open-source and transparency,” the company continued. “We’re excited to see what the community will create.”
The announcement sounds generous, but a cynic might argue that StableStudio is an attempt to outsource DreamStudio development to the open source community. That is not an incorrect assumption. After all, Stability AI is youunder pressure to monetize his extensive endeavors, which range from art and animation to biomedical and generative audio.
Stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque has hinted in plans for an IPO, but Semafor recently reported that Stability AI — which raised more than $100 million in venture capital last October at a reported valuation of more than $1 billion — “burns through cash and has been slow to generate revenue.”
It’s an existential problem for Stability AI. The company did not create Stable Diffusion, instead opting to collaborate with research organizations to create and build products on top of the model. Stability AI’s MO largely provides cloud access to the processing power needed to train AI models rather than developing its own models.
But that is starting to change. A few weeks ago, Stability AI released a series of text-generating AI models intended to compete against systems such as OpenAI’s GPT-4 and ChatGPT. And in early April, Stability released a new version of Stable Diffusion called Stable Diffusion XL, or SDXL, which improves on the original in major ways, such as hand generation.
The renewed push for original research with Stability AI coincides, not coincidentally, with the startup’s efforts to raise additional funds. According to Semafor, Stability is reportedly seeking a $4 billion tranche of funding.