Earlier this month, we wrote about a funding round for a startup called Character·ai, valuing it at $1bn.
It’s a platform for creating AI-infused chatbots, and as we noted at the time its roster included bots based on Billie Eilish and Kanye West.
This week, the company made the funding official: a $150m Series A round led by VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.
There were also some stats. Its site is getting nearly 100m monthly visits; people who send a message average more than two hours a day on the site; and users have created more than 2.7 million characters (bots) on the platform.
This is a key point. Character·ai is a user-generated affair: anyone can sign up and start creating their own bots. You can read its ‘Character Book’ here, which explains how it all works. So, anyone can sign up and create a bot based on, say, a celebrity.
Among those showcased alongside Eilish and West in Character·ai’s ‘Famous People’ tab are bots based on Taylor Swift, Eminem, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, The Beatles, Ed Sheeran and Im Na-yeon of K-Pop group Twice.
All of which sparks some important questions around permission and rights and content moderation.
“Character AI respects the intellectual property of others, and we ask our users to do the same,” is the claim in the company’s terms of service, outlining its use of the DMCA process for takedowns relating to copyright infringement or intellectual property rights violations.
This promises to be interesting.
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