Google Invests in AI Company Anthropic Despite Ties to FTX Co-Founder Sam Bankman-Fried
Google has invested approximately $300 million in artificial intelligence start-up Anthropic, whose biggest investor is Alameda Research, the crypto hedge fund of disgraced crypto boss Sam Bankman-Fried.
According to a Friday report from the Financial Times, Google invested around $300 million in Anthropic in late 2022 despite its ties to Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
In return for the money, Google got a 10 percent stake in the company. Separately, Anthropic announced this week that Google Cloud is its “preferred cloud provider,” with the companies “co-develop AI computing systems.”
Prior to Google’s investment, Anthropic had already raised more than $700 million. Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research is the biggest investor in the AI start-up, which put in $500 million before filing for bankruptcy last year. FTX’s bankruptcy estate has flagged Anthropic as an asset that may help creditors with recoveries.
Formed in 2021, Anthropic is developing Claude, a general-purpose artificial intelligence chatbot. Claude is a potential rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which has made waves across the online world over the past couple of months. Claude has not yet been released publicly.
Both OpenAI and Anthropic are seeking to make developments in generative AI, sophisticated computer programs that can write scripts and create art in seconds.
Anthropic says it’s focused on AI safety, calling itself “an A.I. safety and research company.” It writes on its website, “We show that language models can learn to follow a set of simple, natural language principles via self-improvement, and we use this new method to train a more harmless assistant.”
Meanwhile, Google’s investment was made by its cloud division. The FT report noted that the tech giant may plan to bring Anthropic’s data-intensive computing work to its data centers as part of an effort to catch up with the lead Microsoft has taken in the fast-growing AI market thanks to its work with OpenAI.
Alameda Research was a cryptocurrency trading firm, co-founded by SBF in September 2017. The company has reportedly made a total of 222 investments in the five years of its existence.
FTX and its group of crypto companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early November. Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder of FTX, was later arrested in The Bahamas after US prosecutors formally filed criminal charges against him. He was eventually extradited to the US where he was released from jail after posting a $250m bond in a New York court.
Notably, there was co-mingling of funds between the two companies. Alameda was able to quietly use customer funds from FTX using a backdoor that allowed the loan to fly under the radar of investors, employees, and auditors.