Google's US$2 billion investment in Anthropic

Google had previously invested in Anthropic, but now the firm is intensifying its involvement, moving to compete with Microsoft.

Google's US$2 billion investment in Anthropic
Anthropic logo is seen in this illustration taken March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The backstory: About a year ago, the tech world witnessed a groundbreaking moment when OpenAI introduced ChatGPT. This was a pivotal event in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI). Generative AI, like ChatGPT, possesses immense potential to revolutionize various fields, including science and health care. It's a data-processing powerhouse capable of swiftly handling vast amounts of information. As a result, tech giants like Google and Microsoft, alongside smaller players, wanted in on the action.

Enter Anthropic, a company specializing in AI and machine learning research, which made its debut in 2021. This company was founded by ex-OpenAI execs, siblings Dario and Daniela Amodei. It focuses on creating AI systems that emulate human learning through generalization, often called "common-sense reasoning." The goal is to develop versatile AI systems capable of handling a wide range of tasks, especially those related to natural language understanding and generation. 

More recently: In March, tech giant Google entered the competition by launching its experimental AI chatbot, Bard. But there have been some issues – Bard got called out for providing users with misleading or false information. On top of that, Google was at risk of losing its deal with Samsung, which could have meant losing its status as the default search engine on Samsung smartphones. But Samsung ultimately decided to stay on with Google in May.

The development: Google had previously invested in Anthropic, but now the firm is intensifying its involvement, moving to compete with Microsoft, a major supporter of OpenAI. Google is planning to inject up to US$2 billion into the company. It’s initiating this with an upfront payment of US$500 million, with a commitment to invest an additional US$1.5 billion over time.

Amazon is also joining the race to stay competitive in the AI and cloud computing sector. Last month, Amazon announced an investment of up to US$4 billion in Anthropic. Its financial reports reveal that it’s already invested US$1.25 billion in Anthropic. Also, the company still has the option to fork over up to US$2.75 billion in a second note, but this option expires in the first quarter of 2024.

Key comments:

Google declined to comment on these recent reports.  

Dario Amodei, the CEO of Anthropic, said the deal with Amazon "allows us to work more closely to drive enterprise usage for Claude," which he said represented much of the demand on Bedrock so far.

“It’s a really unusual time from a business perspective because there’s just so much demand for large language models and really more demand than the industry can currently provide,” Daniela Amodei told CNBC in July. “The landscape is just very wide, and there’s really quite a lot of room for many different users and types of users to make use of these systems.”