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PIONEER: 'AI First' Investment | Nathan Benaich
The Founder of Air Street Capital discusses the GenAI landscape, and his 'AI First' Funds
Happy Friday all,
Today I’m bringing you a conversation with one of the world’s leading ‘AI First'‘ investors — Nathan Benaich of Air Street Capital.
Nathan has been on the (Gen)AI investment beat long before it became fashionable. You might have already read his annual State of AI Report and monthly Guide to AI newsletter. (If not, you should — they are invaluable resources.)
Air Street Capital is the news this week. It has just raised $121m for its second ‘AI-First’ fund, backed by high-profile angels, including Spotify founder Daniel Ek and Google DeepMind Chief Scientist Jeff Dean.
Last week, we delved into how popular AI narratives oscillate between 'AI Death or AI Dud.' In the meantime, investors are already capturing immense value from their AI bets. I am reminded of a comment made this week by Nikolai Tangen, Head of the $1.3 trillion Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, who said,
"If you don't think there are opportunities with AI, then in my mind, you are a complete moron."
Indeed. (His fund made a profit of $143 billion (!) in the first half of 2023, largely due to AI investments.)
Let's get to it:
💸 Nathan Benaich is the Founder and General Partner of Air Street Capital, a VC firm investing in AI-first technology and life science companies.
Our conversation explores the current landscape of AI and the trends that are shaping it. We discuss what makes generative AI different and the role of the open-source community, as well as geopolitical and philosophical questions around how these technologies are shaping the future.
(Caveat: we recorded this a few months ago, so there have been movements, but if anything, the themes of our conversation have become even more pertinent.)
Nathan is definitely one to follow/watch in this space. For now, enjoy!
In this episode we cover:
Nathan’s background [00:13]
How to conceptualise the boom in GenAI [03:05]
What makes multimodal models different [06:36]
Where GenAI is headed next [09:00]
The investment landscape [13:03]
Open-source communities [15:28]
How lawsuits are impacting open-source [18:04]
Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI [21:29]
What makes GenAI different [25:05]
Global hubs of AI innovation [28:52]
Geopolitics of GenAI [34:17]
Challenges in the public debate [37:52]
Safety and ethics [42:17]
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