Y Combinator’s Garry Tan Goes to the MatRead more

Sarah Nagy gives a demo of her startup, Seek.ai, at an AI event at the San Francisco Wine Society in January. Photography by Laura Morton for The Information
Sarah Nagy gives a demo of her startup, Seek.ai, at an AI event at the San Francisco Wine Society in January. Photography by Laura Morton for The Information

Boom Times in San Francisco’s AI Underground

Another tech renaissance is gathering strength in the city, complete with a new generation of transplants, a new “it” company and a new (if disputed) nickname.

March 17, 2023 9:02 AM PDT

Not even a banking crisis could chill the fever sweeping San Francisco.

Last Wednesday, as the tech industry recoiled from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, a party was scheduled at the offices of Maverick Ventures in an old army hospital in the Presidio. The venture capital firm’s partners were hosting the latest LangChain meet-up, a roving gathering for people working on artificial intelligence projects. Given the bleak financial news and the atmospheric river half-drowning Northern California, I had wondered if anyone would actually show up.

But when I walked into the Maverick offices, I saw at least 200 people crammed into three conference rooms, excitedly waiting to see a few developers show off their latest work. Even more people had tuned in to watch the demonstrations remotely over Zoom. The mood was not just upbeat, but euphoric: OpenAI’s GPT-4 had been released the day before, and every conversation in the room hovered around it.

It was as if the literal and figurative storms raging outside weren’t even happening. I asked Jéssica Leão, a principal at Maverick who focuses on AI investments, if things had slowed down at all that week—what with the fear and panic rippling throug the industry. “No,” she said breezily. “It’s been full steam ahead.”

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