Anthropic’s Amodei Siblings On Leaving OpenAI to Start a $15B Company

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Anthropic Co-Founder & CEO Dario Amodei
Anthropic Co-Founder & CEO Dario Amodei speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 at Moscone Center on September 20, 2023 in San Francisco, California. Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch

The Bloomberg Tech Summit yesterday (May 9) opened with brother and sister technologists Dario and Daniela Amodei, once principal scientists at OpenAI who later stepped away to found their own A.I. company, Anthropic, now valued at $15 billion. The entrepreneur duo are now engaged in “scaling up” Anthropic by creating models and relationships to serve emerging markets.

Dario and Daniela left OpenAI in late 2020 to start their own company, with the goal of building A.I. systems that are not just powerful and intelligent but are also aligned with human values. “We left OpenAI because of concerns around the direction,” Daniela Amodei, who serves as president of Anthropic, said during an onstage interview yesterday. “We wanted to be sure the tools were being used reliably and responsibly…We want to be the most responsible A.I. we can, always asking the question, ‘What could go wrong here?’”

“Our focus is on scaling with more data, along with models, and creating the relationships necessary to scale up the company in a more enterprise direction,” said Dario Amodei, the company’s CEO.

Asked why users should trust them after last year’s debacle between the OpenAI’s board and the company’s CEO Sam Altman, Dario said, “You shouldn’t. Look at all the companies out there. Who can you trust? It’s a very good question. We believe in doing what you say, and saying what you do. The broader societal question is, is A.I. so big that there needs to be some kind of democratic mandate on the technology?…We need to put positive pressure on this industry to always do the right thing for our users.”

Asked how a brother-and-sister duo both ended up in the tech world, Dario and Daniela said it was a natural result of growing up in San Francisco. “Ever since the time we were kids, we always had a desire to make things better. It may sound corny, but it was a really deep thing with us,” Daniela said. “Growing up in San Francisco in the 1990s, we saw that things were happening but we didn’t yet have the language for what that was. We just saw a lot of well-dressed people going into swanky offices and we wondered, what are all these people doing? What are they working on? They were all young people with good jobs and that was attractive.”

“For me, in the 90s, my fascination was with theories of the early universe more than business,” said Dario. “But over time we began to realize that if you wanted to make science or anything else and be socially responsible you had to be involved and, later on, joining one of these A.I. companies.”

Dario noted the entry point for creating a new A.I. model is rapidly becoming restrictive due to its increasingly high cost. The current generation of AI models cost about $100 million to make, he said. “In the next few years it’s going to grow to the $100 billion range. And the models will look very different.

“Plus, you have to start thinking about the larger ecosystem, carbon offsets for large data centers, so we are looking into that as well,” he added.

Anthropic’s Sibling Founders On Leaving OpenAI to Start a $15B Startup

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