New York-based artificial intelligence firm, Arthur AI, found itself entangled in a web of intrigue when it received an unexpected inquiry from a seemingly fledgling startup, OneOneThree, back in April of the previous year. The intrigue deepened as the story unfolded, involving a clandestine Zoom call, fabricated identities, and an AI presentation that veered off course.
Yan Fung, OneOneThree’s purported head of technology, reached out to Arthur AI expressing keen interest in acquiring their technology and requested a demonstration. In response, Arthur AI organized a Zoom meeting to showcase their software, a pivotal moment that would uncover a series of puzzling events.
As the virtual meeting commenced, Fung was expected to be joined by his colleague, Karina Patel, OneOneThree’s “main engineer.” However, a perplexing twist ensued when the name that materialized on the Zoom interface was Aparna Dhinakaran, a name recognized by an astute Arthur AI employee as belonging to the founder of a rival startup, Arize AI. The situation was met with bewilderment, prompting the Arthur AI team to speculate about the unexpected turn of events. “That’s so strange—I don’t know how they could have possibly gotten the link,” remarked the perplexed Arthur AI employee.
Swiftly, the mysterious participant, posing as Dhinakaran, disconnected from the call, leaving Fung to assert his lack of familiarity with her. It soon emerged that Fung might not have been who he claimed to be. Through online photographs and a trail of clues, Arthur AI pieced together that Fung was potentially Dat Ngo, an Arize AI employee, and that OneOneThree seemed to be nothing more than a façade crafted by Ngo.
The world of artificial intelligence has become a battleground of rivalry, as both tech giants and startups engage in fierce competition for customers, talent, funding, and public recognition. This escalating race for AI supremacy has witnessed large corporations poaching engineering talent from academic institutions, even as some of these skilled individuals break away to establish their own AI ventures. Venture capitalists, recognizing the potential, have also entered the fray, engaging in fierce bidding wars to invest substantial sums at skyrocketing valuations in burgeoning AI startups.