A Zoom Call, Fake Names and an A.I. Presentation Gone Awry

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Arthur AI, an artificial intelligence company based in New York, had an unusual encounter with a start-up called OneOneThree in April of last year. The head of technology at OneOneThree, Yan Fung, expressed interest in purchasing Arthur AI’s technology and requested a demonstration. Following this request, Arthur AI conducted a Zoom meeting with Mr. Fung, during which they discovered that something was amiss. Mr. Fung mentioned that his colleague, Karina Patel, would be joining the call, but the name that appeared on the screen was Aparna Dhinakaran. It was later discovered that OneOneThree was an inactive company and that Mr. Fung was actually an employee of a rival start-up called Arize AI.

The competition in the world of artificial intelligence has grown increasingly fierce as big tech companies and start-ups vie for customers, talent, funding, and recognition. The pursuit of AI technology has led to large companies recruiting engineers from universities and talented individuals leaving to start their own AI companies. Venture capitalists have also engaged in intense battles to invest in AI start-ups by offering large sums of money at high valuations.

The competition among AI start-ups is particularly intense, with only those that form lucrative partnerships, secure major customers, and generate significant buzz having a chance at success. However, in the past, some companies have made exaggerated claims about their capabilities. A study conducted by venture capital firm MMC in 2019 found that 40% of European start-ups classified as AI companies did not actually utilize AI technology for any significant business purpose.

The use of aggressive and unorthodox tactics to gain a competitive edge is not uncommon in the tech industry. However, using false identities or posing as a customer of another company is considered unethical and goes beyond acceptable behavior. The CEOs of Arthur AI and Arize AI declined to comment on the situation, and Ms. Dhinakaran and Mr. Ngo did not respond to requests for comment.

Both Arize AI and Arthur AI offer software that helps companies monitor and solve issues with their AI models. Customers typically compare the offerings of these companies and choose one based on their needs. Arize AI, founded by Ms. Dhinakaran and Jason Lopatecki, has raised $61 million in funding and lists Uber, eBay, and Instacart as customers.

Ms. Dhinakaran is an active figure in the AI start-up scene, speaking at industry events and writing for Forbes. The reality show “The Amazing Race” featured her and her brother as contestants. In her biography for the show, she emphasized her passion for making AI successful, fair, and transparent.

Mr. Ngo, on the other hand, has worked as a data scientist at various companies and joined Arize AI in January 2022. He registered a business called OneOneThree in Delaware in April 2021, before the incident with Arthur AI occurred. OneOneThree had no active website at the time and is no longer registered as an active company.

The Zoom meeting between Arthur AI and OneOneThree raised suspicions due to the presence of Ms. Dhinakaran, a rival start-up’s founder, and the subsequent discovery that OneOneThree was inactive. The situation highlighted the cutthroat competition in the AI industry and the lengths some individuals may go to gain an advantage.

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