AI startup Anthropic raises $100M from Korean telco giant SK Telecom

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AI startup Anthropic raises $100M from Korean telco giant SK Telecom

Anthropic, an artificial intelligence startup co-founded by former OpenAI leaders, will receive $100 million in funding from one of the biggest mobile carriers in South Korea, SK Telecom (SKT), the telco company announced on Sunday.

The funding news comes three months after Anthropic raised $450 million in its Series C funding round led by Spark Capital in May. Prior to the latest investment, SKT participated in the Series C round through its venture capital arm, SK Telecom Venture Capital (SKTVC). Just last month, Germany-based software company SAP also invested in Anthropic. SKT expects to close the investment in the third quarter of this year, chief AI global officer of SKT Chung Suk-geun told TechCrunch.

SKT is joining the white-hot generative AI space race via the strategic investment in Anthropic. The telco says Anthropic and SKT plan to co-develop a multilingual large language model customized for global telco firms. Co-founder and chief science officer of Anthropic Jared Kaplan will lead the overall direction of the customization and the product roadmap.

“SKT has incredible ambitions to use AI to transform the telco industry,” said Dario Amodei, co-founder and CEO of Anthropic. “We’re excited to combine our AI expertise with SKT’s industry knowledge to build an LLM that is customized for telcos.”

The LLM, which SKT and Anthropic will jointly develop, will allow four Global Telco AI Alliance members, including Deutsche Telekom, e& and Singtel, to offer AI developments customized to their users in each market. The LLM would support English, Korean, German, Japanese, Arabic and Spanish languages.

Anthropic, founded in 2021, is building an AI system called Claude, like OpenAI’s Chat GPT, which enables corporations to manage tasks, including searching, generating answers, automating workflows, coding and processing text in natural conversations. Most recently, the Google-backed AI startup has released its updated version, Claude Instant 1.2, which incorporates the strengths of Claude 2, its second-generation AI chatbot.

Claude’s use cases for the telco industry will include “industry-specific customer service, marketing, sales and interactive consumer applications,” according to SKT.

“Combining our Korean language-based LLM with Anthropic’s strong AI capabilities, we expect to create synergy and gain leadership in the AI ecosystem with our global telco partners,” Ryu Young-sang, CEO of SKT, said in its statement.

This article has been updated with information from SKT in the second paragraph. 

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