Google has agreed to invest up to $2 billion in AI startup Anthropic, underscoring the tech giant's eagerness to get a stronger foothold in the rapidly evolving AI space.
The massive investment builds on Google's previous $550 million stake in Anthropic earlier this year. It consists of an initial $500 million investment followed by a commitment for an additional $1.5 billion over time, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The funding comes just one month after Amazon announced a $4 billion investment in Anthropic. With nearly $7 billion raised in the last year, Anthropic is cementing its position as a leading AI startup and rival to OpenAI, the maker of viral chatbot ChatGPT.
As we reported earlier this month, Anthropic was already in talks with Google and others to raise at least $2 billion in additional funding, just days after securing the $1.25 billion Amazon investment. The startup was targeting a valuation between $20 billion and $30 billion inclusive of the new capital. Today's reporting will likely place Anthropic's valuation within the high end of its projected range as it capitalizes on intense investor appetite for AI.
While Google's colossal $2 billion investment in Anthropic is sure to make headlines, it simultaneously raises eyebrows given the tech giant's imminent launch of its next generation large language model, Gemini. Gemini is expected to directly compete with OpenAI's GPT-4 and Anthropic's Claude.
If Google is indeed on the brink of releasing an AI that's not just competitive but also potentially superior to existing models – with its unique ability to tap into Google's vast proprietary data and generate fewer inaccuracies – why such a sizeable investment in a competitor? One could argue that backing Anthropic offers a hedging strategy, but does it reflect a lack of confidence in their in-house developments? Or is it a strategic move to dominate both the homegrown and external AI ecosystems?
Founded in 2021 by former OpenAI engineers, Anthropic is focused on developing advanced natural language processing models similar to ChatGPT. Its existing product Claude offers an AI assistant to compete directly with ChatGPT, as well as enterprise AI tools sold to businesses.
The recent megadeals with both Amazon and Google provide Anthropic with the financial firepower and cloud computing resources to intensify its AI development. Anthropic has told investors it aims to solidify itself as an AI leader as soon as next year.
Google's investment reflects the growing arms race between major tech companies to align themselves with the top AI startups through equity deals and partnerships. With ChatGPT demonstrating the transformative potential of generative AI, tech giants are racing to stake their claims with leading startups like Anthropic and OpenAI.
Microsoft previously invested $10 billion in OpenAI and agreed to significant cloud computing deals. Cloud computing leaders Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are betting these alliances will allow them to integrate cutting-edge AI into their offerings and attract more enterprise customers.
However, the deals carry risks if AI development stalls or key startups fail to deliver. Alphabet shares have fallen over 10% since its recent earnings highlighted slowing growth, despite its AI push. But Google remains committed to aggressive investment in cloud computing and AI.
While it's too early to predict winners in the AI race, it is clear that access to financial resources and computing power will play a critical role. With its latest mammoth investment in Anthropic, Google aims to ensure it has its bases covered as the AI landscape continues to shift rapidly.