- Pandemic-era shutdowns made San Francisco a ghost town for two years.
- Some wondered if San Francisco was dead as a tech hub as people left the city to work remotely.
- Founders are now flocking to the race to succeed in the fledgling arena of generative AI.
San Francisco’s tech scene is back. After a pandemic effectively shut down the city for more than two years, San Francisco has moved away from the proclaimed demise of the once-great city and moved on to the good old days, a destination for those seeking to reshape their technological vision of the world. is moving to
Founders fly flags all over town, dreaming of riding a wave of new technology that is said to bring about changes similar to the iPhone. It’s generative artificial intelligence. Bloomberg Beta early-stage investor Amber Yang recently murmured Startups in the field flocked to San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, and the founders renamed it “Cerebral Valley.” While the tweet was written as a joke, Yang went on to say that the nascent field of generative AI is advancing so quickly that the team needs him to gather in one hub to keep up. I explained that I feel
Generative AI uses training data (for example, a vast corpus of written text) to learn how to create entirely new and unique works. Over 1 million people reportedly tried his ChatGPT in his first five days after release. ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that can respond to questions with human-like answers. Microsoft has reportedly invested his $10 billion in tool creator OpenAI, and he plans to incorporate the technology into Bing search and Azure cloud services.
However, ChatGPT has limitations. You may know how to form sentences like humans, but you can’t tell if it’s accurate.
Still, the technology underlying generative AI is very impressive, and startup founders see a lot of potential. Twenty-two percent of his generative AI companies are based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and 55 percent of his capital invested in the space is landed here, said a partner at early-stage investment firm NFX. One of his, James Currier, said:
The “crazy hacker” is here
Founders Víctor Perez and Diego Rodríguez knew San Francisco was the place for generative AI when they moved to San Francisco and built KREA a few months ago. Based in the city’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, their startup creates models for high-quality image generation along with property management services.
The Spanish duo first landed in Miami last year, where they developed a generative image model. There they realized that most of the “crazy hackers” they met were from San Francisco.
After a few weeks of trials in New York, the generative AI boom has taken off. People started telling them to head west. According to Perez, Dave Fontenot, the founder of his 12-week residency program called HF0 for San Francisco founders, is “crazy” and “irresponsible” not to work on generative AI in San Francisco. He said that.
Perez and Rodríguez originally planned to stay for a short time, but when they started seeing people around San Francisco working on generative technology, including those working on artificial intelligence at Meta and OpenAI, they had to stay. I knew I had to. They said they felt the excitement and motivation of developers building new things.
Perez says the urgency to start building better AI models comes from how more data improves generative AI. The model should be trained using real human-generated data. For example, the more images an AI model sees of fish, the better its ability to generate unique images of fish.
“We feel the urgency,” Perez said. “But it’s not because someone can build a better model than we do today, it’s building the best model tomorrow.”
Another founder who recently landed in San Francisco, Nicholas Locascio, is working on Booth AI. Booth AI targets his e-commerce with tools that generate professional product shots without paying for expensive photo shoots. A customer uploads an image of a product (e.g. a coffee mug) and Booth AI can place that coffee mug in his lifestyle scene to make it look attractive on his ecommerce page.
Along with co-founders Ian Baldwin and Mitra Morgan, Locascio was recently accepted into the vaunted Y Combinator accelerator program based in Silicon Valley.
“This is a technology where many traditional ways of thinking about programming go wrong,” says Locascio. “Nobody knows the best way to do anything right now. It’s a total gold rush.”
no skeptics yet
The founders believe generative AI will change the world, but they are trying to understand exactly how it will play out.
“It’s a unique time because there are no skeptics yet,” NFX partner Currier said. “But big tech companies don’t stand still, and entrepreneurs need to understand that.”
Currier claims that Google has reportedly issued a “code red” in recent weeks to address potential threats from its generative AI products to search and other key services.
That’s why it’s important for up-and-coming AI startup developers to move forward together, sharing ideas with each other, just as they did in the early days of the sharing economy. Co-founder of Uber Travis Kalanick and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky reportedly often had dinner together and left ideas on how to improve the company.
“Lunches and parties in the Bay Area will have a big impact on who comes up with a winning strategy,” Currier said.