February 27, 2024


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Anthropic is on a fundraising spree. After its massive series C round in May and subsequent support from SAP, the AI startup, known for its ChatGPT competitor Claude, is raising an additional $100 million from South Korean telecom major SK Telecom (SKT).

According to a press release from SKT, the investment is being made as part of a strategic partnership that will see Anthropic develop a custom large language model (LLM) to meet the needs of the telecom industry. The company had also participated in a May round through its venture capital arm.

“With our strategic investment in Anthropic, a global leading AI technology company, we will be working closely … to promote AI innovation. By combining our Korean language-based LLM with Anthropic’s strong AI capabilities, we expect to create synergy and gain leadership in the AI ecosystem together with our global telco partners,” Ryu Young-sang, CEO of SKT, said in a statement. 

The round takes the total capital raised by Anthropic to well over $1.5 billion, according to Crunchbase.

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Industry-specific, multilingual LLM from Anthropic

With this engagement, SKT and Anthropic will work together to provide the former’s telco partners with a multilingual LLM, customized for different industry-specific needs.

Anthropic will combine its state-of-the-art AI technology, including the Claude assistant, with SKT’s deep expertise in telecommunications and Korean language LLMs to build a model supporting Korean, English, German, Japanese, Arabic and Spanish. This model will be fine-tuned for different telco-industry-specific use cases, from customer service, marketing and sales to interactive consumer applications. 

As SKT notes, the approach will not only save the time and effort required to build LLMs from scratch but will give telcos easy access to a model that performs much better than the general models on the market. Jared Kaplan, cofounder and chief science officer at Anthropic, will oversee the project, covering customization and the entire product roadmap.

“SKT has incredible ambitions to use AI to transform the telco industry. We’re excited to combine our AI expertise with SKT’s industry knowledge to build an LLM that is customized for telcos. We see industry-specific LLMs as having high potential to create safer and more reliable deployments of AI technology,” Dario Amodei, cofounder and CEO of Anthropic, said.

Anthropic’s approach to generative AI differs from those of rival OpenAI and other competitors in its focus on creating “constitutional AI,” that is, AI models whose responses in training are graded according to a specific ethically-based ruleset.

“At a high level, the constitution guides the model to take on the normative behavior described in the constitution — here, helping to avoid toxic or discriminatory outputs, avoiding helping a human engage in illegal or unethical activities, and broadly creating an AI system that is helpful, honest and harmless,” wrote Anthropic on its webpage describing the constitution for its LLM Claude.

Integration with Telco AI Platform

Once the multilingual model is fine-tuned and ready, Anthropic will work with SKT to integrate it into the Telco AI Platform being built to serve as the core foundation for new AI services in the telecom industry, including those designed to improve existing services, digital assistants, and super apps that offer a wide range of services. 

The platform is being developed by the Global Telco AI Alliance, which includes four members: SKT, Deutsche Telekom, e& and Singtel. With a custom version of Claude, each will be able to build and deploy services/apps customized to its respective market and customers speedily and efficiently.

With this round, Anthropic continues to be among the highest-funded startups in the AI space, sitting right behind OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed startup that has raised over $11 billion so far. Other notable competitors are Inflection AI, which has raised nearly $1.5 billion, and Adept with $415 million in the bag.

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