Runway ML – Harnessing AI to augment creativity

Runway ML – Harnessing AI to augment creativity


Name: Runway ML

Location: New York, New York

Founded: 2018

Founder(s): Cristóbal Valenzuela Barrera, Anastasis Germanidis, Alejandro Ortiz


Social Media: 158 followers on LinkedIn, 6.2k followers on Twitter, 352 followers on Instagram

Industry: Animation Software

Size: $250B (2017) (Source: “MarketWatch – Animation Software Market 2019”)

Projections: $490B by 2026, (CAGR of 8.7%) (Source: “MarketWatch – Animation Software Market 2019“)


Runway ML is a software platform which is helping designers, animators, and video content creators harness the power of Machine Learning without learning how to code. The platform makes several machine learning applications accessible for visual content creators in an easy-to-use format. Until now, the AI art community – a niche collection of creators with an understanding of AI-coding – had leveraged their technical skill to create visual artwork which was beginning to get noticed. Apps such as Prisma had already shown that there was a mainstream market for such applications for consumers, as well. This was inaccessible for most creators, as they lacked the technical knowhow to harness these new-age tools, creating a gap between a solution and those who needed it.

The Product

Runway ML calls itself the ‘next-generation creative toolkit’, and it hosts dozens of AI-based creative functions that can be used for motion tracking and object detection in videos, masking and background removal for images and a host of other functionalities. This enables creators to save substantial time and effort in creating cutting-edge videos and images, allowing them to focus on bringing their vision to reality. The platform makes these functions accessible through a simple drag-and-drop interface, and the cloud-database accommodates all your digital assets. Stitching together new AI-driven creations, therefore, requires no coding skills and the platform allows you to export your work across a variety of formats suited to the software you’re using.

Origin and Founding Team

Runway ML began as a thesis project for Cristóbal Valenzuela at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, according to an article which covers the company at The Verge. After getting enthusiastic support from the AI community, Cristóbal brought two friends on board as co-founders and incorporated the company in December 2018. In January of this year, the platform went through a beta launch which is still running to this day. In this time, the platform has incorporated applications from Facebook, Google, Open AI, and SnapChat, making them freely available to its users.

Cristobal has a Bachelors in Economics and Business Management and an MA in Design from the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Santiago. He joined NYU as part of its Interactive Telecommunications Program, and continued as a researcher at NYU till February 2019.

His co-founders, Anastasis and Alejandro, are colleagues of his from the NYU Program. Anastasis is a Computer Science major from Wesleyan University who has worked in product engineering at ChartBeat and Zocdoc. He also worked as a Computer Vision researcher at IBM, showing that he has some experience at the intersection of AI and visualization.

Alejandro is a Product Designer and Front-end Developer with some prior entrepreneurial experience as a co-founder of Deenty, an online booking platform for dentist appointments in Chile.

Trends and Performance

While the platform is still in beta, the company has made substantial progress in advancing its product. It now has compatibility with Unity, allowing users of the platform to generate images, textures, and place models in Unity3d environments. The company now is home to over 50 different AI-driven open-source models that allow its growing community to augment their creative work without using any coding whatsoever. 

Runway ML is currently backed by Lux Capital and Amplify Partners.

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