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  • Writer's pictureJamal Saafir

Amazon Betting Billion(s) On AI Startup Anthropic

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

According to a report from TechCrunch, Amazon will be investing up to $4 billion in the AI startup Anthropic, the two firms said, as the e-commerce group prepares to compete with rivals Microsoft, Meta, Google and Nvidia in the flourishing sector that many technologists consider to be the next extraordinary frontier.

The e-commerce group said at first it would invest $1.25 billion for a minority stake in Anthropic. Similar to Google’s Bard and Microsoft-backed OpenAI, Anthropic also operates an AI-powered, text-analyzing chatbot. Amazon stated that one aspect of the deal is that it has the option to increase its investment in Anthropic to a total of $4 billion.

Earlier this year, TechCrunch exclusively reported that Anthropic, which also has Google as an investor, intends to acquire as much as $5 billion over the next two years.

Anthropic, which earlier this month introduced its first consumer-facing premium subscription plan for chatbot Claude 2, plans to build a “frontier model” — potentially to be called “Claude-Next” — that has 10 times the efficiency of today’s most powerful AI, according to a 2023 investor deck TechCrunch obtained earlier this year.

The startup cautioned this development will call for a billion dollars in spending over the next year and a half. (Microsoft has invested around $11 billion in OpenAI throughout the years.)

With Amazon’s interest in Anthropic, the startup has attracted a nearly inexhaustible strategic investor that can also supply it with computing power to develop future AI models and then locate and help market the offerings to scores of cloud customers.

As part of the investment agreement, Anthropic will use Amazon’s cloud giant AWS as a primary cloud provider for mission-critical workloads, including safety research and future foundation model development, the e-commerce group said.

Anthropic will additionally use AWS Trainium and Inferentia chips to build, train, and deploy its future foundation models. (Anthropic has been a customer of AWS since 2021.)

Amazon believes it can help “improve many customer experiences, short and long-term, through our deeper collaboration” with Anthropic, said Andy Jassy, Amazon's chief executive, in a statement.

“Customers are quite excited about Amazon Bedrock, AWS’s new managed service that enables companies to use various foundation models to build generative AI applications on top of, as well as AWS Trainium, AWS’s AI training chip, and our collaboration with Anthropic should help customers get even more value from these two capabilities.”

Anthropic — which has Spark Capital, Salesforce, Sound Ventures, Menlo Ventures and Zoom among its investors — has accumulated a sum of $2.7 billion to date. The startup was valued at roughly $5 billion in May this year when it secured $450 million in a funding round. It didn’t say how Amazon valued Anthropic in the new investment.

The collaboration with Anthropic grants Amazon the ability to build a heftier war chest in the excitedly fast-growing artificial intelligence industry.

Anthropic chief executive and co-founder Dario Amodei told the TechCrunch Disrupt audience last week that he doesn’t see any barriers on the horizon for his company’s key technology.

“The last 10 years, there’s been this remarkable increase in the scale that we’ve used to train neural nets and we keep scaling them up, and they keep working better and better,” he said last week. “That’s the basis of my feeling that what we’re going to see in the next 2, 3, 4 years… what we see today is going to pale in comparison to that.”

Anthropic has committed to a “long-term” obligation to provide AWS customers throughout the globe with access to future generations of its foundation models through Amazon Bedrock, AWS’s fully managed service that provides secure access to the industry’s top foundation models.

Anthropic will also provide AWS customers with early access to special features for model customization and fine-tuning abilities.

“Training state-of-the-art models requires extensive resources including compute power and research programs. Amazon’s investment and supply of AWS Trainium and Inferentia technology will ensure we’re equipped to continue advancing the frontier of AI safety and research,” said Anthropic in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with Amazon to responsibly scale adoption of Claude and deliver safe AI cloud technologies to organizations around the world.”

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