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Anthropic’s $5B, 4-year plan to take on OpenAI

Anthropic plans to train a powerful model with billions in new funding

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AI research startup Anthropic aims to raise as much as $5 billion over the next two years to take on rival OpenAI and enter over a dozen major industries, according to company documents obtained by TechCrunch.

A pitch deck for Anthropic’s Series C fundraising round discloses these and other long-term goals for the company, which was founded in 2020 by former OpenAI researchers.

In the deck, Anthropic says that it plans to build a “frontier model” — tentatively called “Claude-Next” — 10 times more capable than today’s most powerful AI, but that this will require a billion dollars in spending over the next 18 months.

When contacted for comment, an Anthropic spokesperson said: “We are planning additional product announcements and will be talking about them soon.”

The Information reported in early March that Anthropic was seeking to raise $300 million at $4.1 billion valuation, bringing its total raised to $1.3 billion. The deck confirms that target number, though only half was raised at the time of the document’s creation from a “confidential investor.”

Anthropic describes the frontier model as a “next-gen algorithm for AI self-teaching,” making reference to an AI training technique it developed called “constitutional AI.” At a high level, constitutional AI seeks to provide a way to align AI with human intentions — letting systems respond to questions and perform tasks using a simple set of guiding principles.

Anthropic estimates its frontier model will require on the order of 10^25 FLOPs, or floating point operations — several orders of magnitude larger than even the biggest models today. Of course, how this translates to computation time depends on the speed and scale of the system doing the computation; Anthropic implies (in the deck) it relies on clusters with “tens of thousands of GPUs.”

This frontier model could be used to build virtual assistants that can answer emails, perform research and generate art, books and more, some of which we have already gotten a taste of with the likes of GPT-4 and other large language models.

“These models could begin to automate large portions of the economy,” the pitch deck reads. “We believe that companies that train the best 2025/26 models will be too far ahead for anyone to catch up in subsequent cycles.”

The frontier model is the successor to Claude, Anthropic’s chatbot that can be instructed to perform a range of tasks, including searching across documents, summarizing, writing and coding, and answering questions about particular topics. In these ways, it’s similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. But Anthropic makes the case that Claude is — thanks to constitutional AI — “much less likely to produce harmful outputs,” “easier to converse with” and “more steerable.”

Anthropic released Claude commercially in March following a closed beta late last year, allowing around 15 partners initial access. It counts among its beta users and potential customers the following industries (with the asterisk indicating that a human is in the loop to supervise the model):

  • Legal document summary and analysis*
  • Medical patient records and analysis*
  • Customer service emails and chat
  • Coding models for consumers and B2B
  • Productivity-related search, document editing and content generation*
  • Chatbot for public Q&A and advice
  • Search employing natural language responses
  • HR tasks like job descriptions and interview analysis*
  • Therapy and coaching
  • Virtual assistants*
  • Education at all levels*

Dario Amodei, the former VP of research at OpenAI, launched Anthropic in 2021 as a public benefit corporation, taking with him a number of OpenAI employees, including OpenAI’s former policy lead Jack Clark. Amodei split from OpenAI after a disagreement over the company’s direction, namely the startup’s increasingly commercial focus.

Anthropic now competes with OpenAI as well as startups like Cohere and AI21 Labs, all of which are developing and productizing their own text-generating — and in some cases image-generating — AI systems. OpenAI has by far raised the most in terms of capital, recently securing a reported $10 billion from Microsoft at a $29 billion.

“Anthropic has been heavily focused on research for the first year and a half of its existence, but we have been convinced of the necessity of commercialization, which we fully committed to in September [2022],” the pitch deck reads. “We’ve developed a strategy for go-to-market and initial product specialization that fits with our core expertise, brand and where we see adoption occurring over the next 12 months.”

The pitch deck reveals that Alameda Research Ventures, the sister firm of Sam Bankman-Fried’s collapsed cryptocurrency startup FTX, was a “silent investor” in Anthropic with “non-voting” shares — responsible for spearheading Anthropic’s $580 million Series B round. Anthropic expects Alameda’s shares to be disposed of in bankruptcy proceedings within the next few years.

Google is also among Anthropic’s investors, having pledged $300 million in Anthropic for a 10% stake in the startup. Under the terms of the deal, which was first reported by the Financial Times, Anthropic agreed to make Google Cloud its “preferred cloud provider” with the companies “co-develop[ing] AI computing systems.”

Other Anthropic backers include James McClave, Facebook and Asana co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and founding Skype engineer Jaan Tallinn.

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