The Year in Artificial Intelligence: 9 People Behind 2023’s Hottest A.I. Chatbots

The generative A.I. race is crowded and concentrated.

A collage of A.I. startup founders
From top left to bottom right: Mustafa Suleyman, Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, Clément Delangue and Dario Amodei. Getty Images

The past year saw an explosion of artificial intelligence chatbots. The meteoric rise of OpenAI’s ChatGPT spurred a crop of startups building competing image and text generators. The race of the so called generative A.I. is crowded and concentrated, with the founders behind unfamiliar startups predominantly coming from a handful of industry-leading companies like OpenAI, Google and Microsoft.

Among the most talked-about (and highly valued) GPT rivals of this year are Anthropic’s Claude, Inflection AI’s Pi, AI21 Lab’s Jurassic and the hard-to-ignore Grok, developed by Elon Musk’s new startup, xAI.

Here are the nine entrepreneurs, engineers and investors driving the generative A.I. landscape in 2023, each contributing unique perspectives and technologies that will shape the future of A.I.

Elon Musk, 52, founder and CEO of xAI

Elon Musk, one of the original founders of OpenAI, has long aspired to build an alternative product to ChatGPT (now backed by Microsoft) and Google’s Bard that would be aligned with his vision for A.I. In March, Musk registered a company called xAI in Nevada. “I’m starting very late in the game, of course. But I will create a third option that hopefully does more good than harm. This might be the best path to A.I. safety,” he said in an interview with Tucker Carlson in April.

In Musk’s opinion, industry giants like Google and Microsoft are too focused on profitability and don’t care enough about A.I. safety. Nevertheless, he hired the founding team of xAI mostly from those companies.

In November, Musk unveiled xAI’s first chatbot, Grok, “designed to answer questions with a bit of wit and has a rebellious streak,” the company said. Grok’s training data include real-time posts from X, which Musk claimed is “a massive advantage over other models” that have a cut-off date by which training data is available.

Dario Amodei, 40, cofounder and CEO of Anthropic

In early 2021, Dario Amodei led a team of former OpenAI researchers and engineers and founded a rival startup called Anthropic. Amodei himself worked at OpenAI, too, between 2016 and 2020. He led the development of the company’s GPT-2 and GPT-3 language models, the latter of which powered the initial public version of ChatGPT.

Before OpenAI, Dario worked as a research scientist at Google and the U.S. branch of Chinese internet giant Baidu. In interviews this year, Amodei implied that he had to start his own company because he had different ideas on the direction of A.I. development than OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

Anthropic’s main product is Claude, an A.I. text generator trained on a unique method called “constitutional A.I.” The company aims to build A.I. systems that are not only powerful and intelligent but aligned with human values.

Daniela Amodei, 36, cofounder and president of Anthropic

Among the group of OpenAI employees who followed Dario Amodei in 2021 was his younger sister, Daniela Amodei, who is now president of Anthropic, overseeing the company’s day-to-day operations.

Daniela had a shorter career at OpenAI, where she led the company’s recruiting effort and managed its technical safety and policy teams. Earlier in her career, Daniela worked in similar functions at payment software maker Stripe for five years.

Mustafa Suleyman, 39, cofounder and CEO of Inflection AI

Before founding Inflection AI in 2022, Mustafa Suleyman was best known for cofounding DeepMind, now Google’s A.I. lab, in 2010. DeepMind was acquired by Google in 2014 and Suleyman served as the lab’s head of applied A.I. until 2020, when he was appointed Google’s VP of A.I. policy. 

Amid the generative A.I. boom, Suleyman left Google last year to join venture capital firm Greylock Partners as a partner. There, he met LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, who’s also a partner, and later launched Inflection AI. 

Inflection’s product is a chatbot called Pi. Pi is trained with a focus on conducting conversations in a more human-like way like competing chatbots. “It doesn’t do lists, or coding, it doesn’t do travel plans, it won’t write your marketing strategy, or your essay for school,” Suleyman said in an interview in May. “It’s purely designed for relaxed, supportive, informative conversation.”

Reid Hoffman, 56, cofounder of Inflection AI

“With Pi, we set out to create a personal AI that is as flexible as it is powerful,” Hoffman, a cofounder of Inflection, said in May when announcing the chatbot. “So millions of people can use it to make their lives more meaningful, more productive, and more fun.”

Hoffman holds no executive roles at Inflection. But through Greylock, he incubated the startup and led a $250 million early investment. Hoffman was a board member of OpenAI, a post he resigned from in March in order to focus on his new A.I. ventures. He is still a board member of Microsoft, which owns a large stake in OpenAI.

Emad Mostaque, 40, cofounder and CEO of Stability AI

Before entering A.I., Emad Mostaque had a decade-long career in hedge fund, working for multiple firms in the U.K. Mostaque, a Bengali Muslim, began his journey in tech in the 2000s creating what he called “Islamic A.I.” for Muslim communities to help guide people on their religious journey.

In 2o2o, Mostaque founded Stability AI. With a mixture of his own money and external investments from firms like Lightspeed Venture Partners, Coatue Management and Eros Investment, Mostaque funded the development of Stability AI’s open-source image generator, Stable Diffusion, a competitor to OpenAI’s Dall-E. (Both image bots were released in early 2021.)

In an interview with CNBC in July, Mostaque declared generative A.I. “is a $1 trillion investment opportunity” but will be “the biggest bubble of all time.”

Ori Goshen, cofounder and co-CEO of AI21 Labs

Ori Goshen is an Israeli software engineer and entrepreneur. After holding engineering and executive roles for multiple organizations, including the Israel Defense Forces, between 2003 and 2016, he started AI21 Labs in Tel Aviv in 2017. The startup offers a language model called Jurassic, a rival of OpenAI’s GPT-3.

Yoav Shoham, Stanford professor and cofounder of AI21 Labs

One of Goshen’s cofounders is Yoav Shoham, a former director of Stanford University’s A.I. lab. Shoham received a Ph.D in Computer Science from Yale in 1986 and has been a professor emeritus at Stanford since 1987.  

Prior to AI21 Labs, Shoham founded multiple software companies which were later acquired by Google, including Katango in 2013 and Timeful in 2015. 

Clément Delangue, 34, cofounder and CEO of Hugging Face

Clément Delangue is a French entrepreneur with a track record of founding multiple software startups in Silicon Valley and Europe. In 2016, he cofounded Hugging Face in New York City with French software engineers Julien Chaumond and Thomas Wolf. Chaumond serves as Hugging Face’s chief technology officer and Wolf leads the company’s open-source and science teams.

Delangue originally started Hugging Face to develop a chatbot app targeted at teenagers. But now its main product is a platform for A.I. developers to share open-source code and training models—similar to the way Github lets developers store software code. It also makes an original language model called Bloom, also rival of  GPT-3.

The Year in Artificial Intelligence: 9 People Behind 2023’s Hottest A.I. Chatbots