With a $2 billion investment from Google, Anthropic has become a frontrunner in the AI industry, now rivaling OpenAI as a relatively new startup with massive backing.
Google’s investment in Anthropic follows Amazon, which recently announced it was committing some $4 billion to the startup.
Sources cited by The Wall Street Journal reveal that the funding deal from Google comprises an immediate $500 million, with an additional commitment of up to $1.5 billion at a later stage.
However, the specifics regarding the timing or conditions of this latter portion remain undisclosed. Anthropic has yet to comment on the matter.
This move is reminiscent of Microsoft’s sizable investment in OpenAI earlier this year. These investments don’t just involve money – they also involve committing cloud, compute, and data resources.
Google’s investment shows how big tech firms are firming up their affiliations with AI startups, most notably Anthropic, OpenAI, and Inflection. Many top AI researchers have found themselves working for these startups, siloing the skills and knowledge that veterans like Microsft and Google want access.
In a conversation at Disrupt last month, Anthropic’s CEO and co-founder, Dario Amodei, subtly hinted at the upcoming financial influx, stating, “We’ve only been around for a little over two and a half years… in that time, we’ve managed to raise $1.5 billion, which is a lot. Our team is much smaller, and yet we’ve managed to hold our own.”
“We have really, very radically been able to do more with less. And I think relatively soon, we’re going to be in a position to do more with more.”
These developments align with Anthropic’s strategic plans, as outlined in internal documents obtained by TechCrunch in April, which reveal an ambition to raise $5 billion or more to directly challenge OpenAI.
Anthropic has strategically positioned itself as an enterprise product, focusing on professional services and knowledge work – a less flashy but potentially more sustainable and profitable business model.
As of now, Anthropic’s only product is Claude 2, which hasn’t been marketed to the same extent as OpenAI’s models. In fact, many outside of AI communities have probably never heard of it.
Anthropic is also a chief pioneer of “constitutional AI” which proposes training AI governed by a constitution of policies, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They’ve also been outspoken about the AI industry’s shortfalls, including the potential for large language models (LLMs) to perpetuate bias and homogenize opinion.
Anthropic’s internal documents disclosed that a billion dollars would be required by the end of 2024 to develop their next-generation model, “Claude-Next.”
With Google and Amazon backing, their next moves are certainly something to keep an eye on.