AI

Anthropic is expanding to Europe and raising more money

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Amazon to invest up to $4 billion in AI startup Anthropic
Image Credits: Anthropic

On the heels of OpenAI announcing the latest iteration of its GPT large language model, its biggest rival in generative AI in the U.S. announced an expansion of its own. Anthropic said Monday that Claude, its AI assistant, is now live in Europe with support for “multiple languages,” including French, German, Italian and Spanish across Claude.ai, its iOS app and its business plan for teams.

The launch comes after Anthropic extended its API to Europe to get developers using and integrating its models. Both are part of a bigger push at the startup to put the gas on faster growth. Anthropic has to date picked up nearly $8 billion at an $18.4 billion valuation (post-money), with more than $7 billion of that sum raised in the last year.

Co-founder and president Daniela Amodei has confirmed to TechCrunch that Anthropic is in the process of raising more primary capital on top of that. “Yes, but we can’t comment further,” she said about the fundraising in an interview over email.

Anthropic’s list of nearly 60 current investors include strategics Amazon, Google, Salesforce, SAP and Zoom. Alameda and FTX recently announced plans to sell off its previous shares at an increased value of $884 million as part of a secondary transaction related to a bankruptcy proceeding.

Anthropic isn’t the only one capitalizing on investors’ huge appetite to back AI startups. We understand from sources close to Mistral AI, another LLM player, that it is speaking to investors to raise nearly $600 million at a $6 billion valuation. SoftBank notably is not an investor in any of these companies, placing it into the frame as one possible backer.

Investors are very enthusiastic about generative AI right now, but it may be that consumers are slightly less so. As we reported last week, Anthropic’s iOS app, launched at the start of May, has had a lukewarm reception from users so far, underscoring bigger questions about how much of the interest we are seeing in AI right now is just a fad. That could present a challenge as the company looks for further business across the pond.

Amodei believes its own iOS launch versus that of OpenAI’s is not a straight comparison, given Anthropic’s primary focus on work and enterprise applications, an emphasis on more “fluid” experiences that move from person to work accounts and toggle across different interfaces and platforms, and what she implies might have been luck of timing for its larger rival.

“ChatGPT on mobile came at a time when consumer applications of its kind were still very nascent and a lot has changed since then,” she said. She added that “millions” of consumers in the U.S. and U.K. are using Claude “and we continue to see really strong adoption of our paid subscription to Claude (Claude Pro) since the launch of Claude 3,” the company’s most recent model, released earlier this year.

“Our primary focus is on work and enterprise applications—and the recent launch of the Claude Team plan is indicative of an ongoing trend for us. We want our users to engage with Claude in whatever way feels most intuitive to them—either through mobile, web or the API. We’re building towards a fairly fluid experience, where Claude users can toggle between their personal accounts and work accounts, and switch between laptop or mobile, in the same way that employees engage with Slack on their laptops during the workday or on their phones when they’re on the go.”

Amodei declined to give any specific figures on take-up of the API in Europe but said that it’s seeing “steep growth rates that continue to rise in key European markets, like France and Germany.” Stirring up user interest across Europe is just one of the company’s challenges in this market.

Europe has been one of the loudest voices on the subjects of AI safety and regulation, in particular with the AI Act passed earlier this year. Amodei believes that Anthropic is well set up to operate within European frameworks.

“Anthropic was founded on the premise of building the safest AI systems in the industry and leading the frontier on AI safety research,” she said, adding that the company works “diligently” to comply with regulations like GDPR in the EU. She added that there is still more to come around how the AI Act will be implemented.

“While the AI Act has been approved, there are still a number of steps remaining to develop detailed implementation guidance over the coming months and we intend to engage with the EU in this process.” The company, she added, continues to work and contribute to efforts in the industry to improve AI safety, including banning using its tech for political campaigns and lobbying, with automated systems built in to detect violations related to this and misinformation.

Its work in mechanistic interpretability — which she described as “research that seeks to open up the “black box” of AI models and reveal their inner workings” — had a breakthrough in 2023 around “dictionary learning” to understand what’s happening inside an AI model as it “thinks,” she said. “Eventually, we hope to use this newfound understanding to develop methods to steer models towards safer behaviors.”

Anthropic currently has 40 employees based out of its London office with a few contractors based in European countries, Amodei said, and it is gearing up to hire more, specifically to build out a new office in Dublin.

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