Anthropic, AI Startup, Shutting Out Saudi Money

Anthropic, AI Startup, Shutting Out Saudi Money

In the world of investment, sovereign wealth funds are often seen as the big players with deep pockets, ready to support promising startups. One such startup that has garnered attention from these funds is Anthropic, an artificial intelligence company that is gaining traction in the market. However, there is one notable absence when it comes to potential investors for Anthropic – Saudi Arabia. Despite the interest from various sources, Anthropic has made a decision to steer clear of Saudi money, citing national security concerns.

The stake in Anthropic that is up for sale originally belonged to FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange started by Sam Bankman-Fried. FTX purchased the shares three years ago for $500 million, but due to the recent surge in the AI sector, the value has more than doubled to over $1 billion. As part of FTX’s bankruptcy proceedings, the shares are being sold to repay customers. The sale, which is currently in progress, is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.

Anthropic has secured significant funding in the past few years, amassing around $7 billion from major tech players like Amazon, Alphabet, and Salesforce. The company’s large language model is a direct competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, making it an attractive option for investors. With the ability to challenge potential investors, Anthropic founders Dario and Daniela Amodei have the autonomy to vet funding sources.

While Anthropic has made it clear that they will not accept funding from Saudi Arabia, they are open to investments from other sovereign wealth funds, including the United Arab Emirates’ Mubadala fund. The founders’ decision to avoid Saudi money could be tied to national security concerns related to dual-use technology, which may have implications for civilian and military applications.

Saudi Arabia’s reputation in the global community has faced scrutiny in recent years, particularly following the alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. This event sparked international outrage and raised concerns about the kingdom’s human rights record. Additionally, Saudi investments have been met with caution by some Western partners due to these issues.

On the other side of the coin, Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, is facing legal troubles following the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange. He has been convicted of multiple criminal counts, and his sentencing is scheduled for the upcoming week. Prosecutors are recommending a sentence ranging from 40 to 50 years, adding another layer of complexity to the situation.

Anthropic’s decision to eschew Saudi money in favor of other funding sources reflects the complexities of the global investment landscape, where geopolitical considerations and legal issues can impact investment decisions. As the company navigates the sale of FTX’s stake and continues to attract investors, the broader implications of its funding choices will be closely watched by industry observers.

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