OpenAI And Anthropic Aim For Big Valuation Spikes, Visa Looks To Join Generative AI Gold Rush

This column is a look back at the week that was in AI.

It’s been a busy week once again in AI, especially when it comes to investing and valuing it.

Just about a week after announcing a new investment worth up to $4 billion from Amazon, AI startup Anthropic is apparently looking for more.

The startup, a ChatGPT rival with its AI assistant Claude, is in talks with investors — possibly Google — about raising another $2 billion in funding at a valuation between $20 billion and $30 billion, according to The Information.

That seems like quite the jump in value. It was just in May when Anthropic raised a $450 million Series C led by Spark Capital. Anthropic did not release a valuation at that time, but reports surfaced before the announcement said it was raising a round at a pre-investment valuation of $4.1 billion.

Anthropic is not alone. Late last week it was reported that its chief rival OpenAI was in talks to sell shares on the secondary market at a staggering $90 billion valuation.

Remember that it was just in early spring when OpenAI picked up about $300 million from the likes of Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz at a valuation of around $29 billion.

That means in about five months the startup behind the artificial intelligence tools ChatGPT and DALL-E has seen its valuation jump 3x.

That’s especially amazing considering how many startups have slashed their valuations this year as private investors try to value companies at least a little more like public inventors do. (You can see how off private investors were on companies like Instacart, once valued at $39 billion as a private company and now with a $7.3 billion market cap following its IPO last month).

Of course, OpenAI is the poster child for the AI craze right now and seemingly can value itself at what it wants, when it wants. Perhaps the same can be said about Anthropic.

However, even others are also trying the same valuation jump.

Character.AI, which allows people to create their own personalized AI chatbots, is seeking to raise “hundreds of millions of dollars” in a round that could value it at more than $5 billion, Bloomberg reported last week.

It was just in March when the Palo Alto-based startup closed a $150 million Series A at a $1 billion valuation led by Andreessen Horowitz. Four months later, reports started to circulate that Character.AI was already looking to raise more money.

That round may be getting closer — especially if a valuation has been settled on. Of course, it may just wait a few months and raise at twice or three times that valuation. That would fit the current times.

Things that caught our eye and other stuff:

We’ve noted many times this year the vast corporate interest in AI from the likes of Nvidia, Microsoft, Google and even Salesforce’s 1 venture arm, Salesforce Ventures. Well, we can soon add Visa to that list.

The credit card giant announced early this week it was launching a $100 million fund to invest in generative artificial intelligence startups.

The effort will be led by its investment arm, Visa Ventures, and will look for “startups building across generative AI, commerce and payments,” said David Rolf, Head of Visa Ventures, in a release.

Based on the going valuations for all things AI, Visa may need to increase the size of that fund. Salesforce Ventures did afterall.

  • One of the larger and more interesting AI rounds this week went to Lakewood, Colorado-based Prins AI, which raised a somewhat under-the-radar $100 million Series B led by AAB VC.  The startup, which had previously raised $32 million, has developed a platform for creating AI digital identities — or “smart worker” — that can be used in lieu of humans for things such as marketing and training videos, or even broadcast media. The company has offices around the world, including China, and plans to use the fresh cash to enhance its R&D in deep learning tech for digital identity products.
  • There’s a lot of talk about how AI will improve many different industries. One not mentioned often may be construction. However, this week Austin, Texas-based AI Clearing raised a $14 million Series A led by Prudence to prove that perhaps it just can. The startup has created an AI-powered construction progress tracking and quality control platform that enables contractors, owners and others to track construction progress and quality in real time.

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Illustration: Dom Guzman

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