Zoom calls, fake names and AI presentations go wrong (2023)





Artificial Intelligence As the technological competition increases, so does the competition between startups.

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Zoom calls, fake names and AI presentations go wrong (1)
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pass throughErin Griffiths

Reporting from San Francisco

Arthur IArtificial IntelligenceLast April, a company in New York received a message from a startup called OneOneThree. Yan Fung, technical director at OneOneThree, said he is interested in purchasing Arthur AI's technology and would like to do a demo.

A week later, Arthur AI held a Zoom meeting with Feng to show him its software, according to emails and video recordings reviewed by The New York Times. When Mr. Feng's colleagues joined the call, the Arthur AI team realized something was wrong.

Mr Fung said Karina Patel, OneOneThree's "principal engineer", would make the call. But the name flashing on the Zoom call was Aparna Dhinakaran. An Arthur AI employee realized the name belonged to the founder of rival startup Arize AI. "It's so weird - I don't know how they found the link," said Arthur AI employee.

The newcomers quickly left and Mr Fung said he did not know Ms Dinakaran.

A person familiar with the matter said Arthur AI later deduced from photos posted online that Mr. Feng was an ArizeAI employee named Dat Ngo. OneOneThree appears to be one of his dormant companies.

The world of artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly competitive as big tech companies and startups compete for customers, talent, funding and advertising. As competition for technology intensifies, large companies are hiring engineers from universities, and some top talent is leaving universities.start your own AI company. Venture capitalists have also seen intense competition in recent months.Invest in AI startupsWith big bucks hanging in the balance as valuations soar.

The race for AI startups is particularly fierce. Only the companies that form the right partnerships, attract the biggest customers and generate the most excitement have a chance to ride the wave of hype.

While artificial intelligence has generated interest in the past, some companies have overpromised its capabilities. A 2019 study by London-based venture capital firm MMC found that 40% of 2,830 European startups were classified as AI. PursueNOTechnology that leverages artificial intelligence for important business reasons.

"We know that people do crazy things to get ahead," said Olivier Toubia, professor of behavioral economics and entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School. He said the history of the tech industry, particularly its brutal competition, dates back to a period of frenzied investment and opportunity during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.

Many companies are chasing competitors, and tech startups are known for using aggressive and unconventional strategies to grow as quickly as possible. But most draw a line at things like using false identities or different company names to impersonate customers.

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Arthur AI CEO and Arize AI spokesman declined to comment. Ms. Dinakaran and Mr. Ngo did not respond to requests for comment.

Both Arize AI and Arthur AI offer "observability" software that helps companies track and address AI issues. Example. Customers are likely to compare different products and choose one.

Ms. Dhinakaran founded Arize AI in 2020 in the San Francisco Bay Area with Jason Lopatecki, a former executive at ad tech company TubeMogul. According to PitchBook, which tracks startups, the startup has raised $61 million from investors including Battery Ventures, Foundation Capital, TCV and Trinity Ventures, worth $155 million.

in 2022promotion meeting, Arize AI lists Uber, eBay and Instacart as clients. The demo ended with an AI-generated image of the company's hypothetical IPO.

Ms. Dhinakaran, 29, works in artificial intelligence. Start the scene. He speaks at industry events and writes a column on artificial intelligence. Forbes named her one of the "30 Under 30", an award for successful young people in the professional field. She spent three years at Uber and interned at Apple and TubeMogul, touting her experience as a "machine learning engineer and executive."

In 2020, Ms. Dhinakaran appeared on the reality television show The Amazing Race alongside her brother. They took fifth place.

“I am passionate about creating artificial intelligence. Success, fairness, transparency," he saidHe wroteIn the biography of the project. She added that she is a foodie who likes to try new cuisines and that her other favorite hobbies include tennis and "hosting board game nights that require you to lie."

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On LinkedIn, Mr. Ngo is listed as the founder of the OneOneThree project, which is described as a provider of autonomous vehicle network research from June 2020 to July 2021. During that time, according to his LinkedIn profile, he worked as a data scientist at software company Point, Predictive and tax consultancy Alliantgroup. Joined Arize AI in January 2022.

Ngo registered a company in Delaware under the name OneOneThree in April 2021, a year before the Arthur AI conference and eight months before he started working at Arize AI, company documents show. OneOneThree did not have a website at the time of the meeting, but listed two former employees, including Mr. Ngo, on LinkedIn. According to a filing with the Delaware Secretary of State and a spokesman, OneOneThree's registry has been inactive since March.

OneOneThree also appears on the customer contact list of WhyLabs, another AI company. That indicated OneOneThree had signed up for a demo or event hosted by WhyLabs, the people said. In a call with Arthur AI, Mr. Wu (who appears as Mr. Feng) said that OneOneThree saw WhyLabs' software and liked some aspects of it, but "it wasn't deep enough for me."

Before a Zoom meeting between Arthur AI and OneOneThree last year, the person calling himself Mr. Feng explained that OneOneThree is in "stealth mode" and therefore does not have a website, people familiar with the matter said.

Arthur AI asked Feng to sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement, which is common among technology companies to protect trade secrets. According to a Times statement, he urged Arthur Eye "to refuse to sign the nondisclosure agreement." The company agreed.

During the call, Mr. Ngo answered Arthur AI's questions about OneOneThree, according to a video recording of the meeting. He then said that his colleague Mr Patel would join.

At this point, Ms. Dhinakaran's name appeared on the screen and was quickly written off. The assembly fell silent. The recording shows an Arthur AI employee asking Ngo if he knows Ms. Dhinakaran and why the founder of a competing startup would try to attend a demo.

"No, it shouldn't be someone I know," he replied.

Shortly after the call ended, an Arthur AI employee confronted Ngo in a LinkedIn message, a person familiar with the matter said. Ngo responded by trying to recruit Arthur AI staff to Arize AI, the person said.

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

Erin GriffithsReport of the San Francisco Bureau of Technology Startups and Venture Capital. Before joining the Times, he was a writer for WIRED and FORTUNE. More about Erin Griffiths

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