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Google considers investing in chatbot startup that lets users talk to AI versions of celebrities, therapists: Report
Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Google considers investing in chatbot startup that lets users talk to AI versions of celebrities, therapists: Report

Google is weighing investing in a chatbot startup company that allows users to talk to artificial intelligence versions of celebrities and gaming characters, sources told Reuters.

The startup, Character.AI, was founded by former Google employees Noam Shazeer and Daniel De Freitas.

"Character.AI lets you create Characters and talk to them," the company's website states. "Characters can be anything. Our breakthrough AI technology can bring all of your ideas to life."

Character.AI users can chat with AI versions of famous people, including William Shakespeare, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Albert Einstein, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, George Orwell, and Karl Marx. Developers have been recently hit with copyright infringement lawsuits, challenging how the large language models are trained. ChaptGPT's parent company, OpenAI, is facing several complaints from authors who claim the chatbot was trained on their writing without permission.

Additionally, Character.AI users can communicate with AI versions of anime, game, and movie characters. The website also offers many AI-powered "helpers," including a "creative helper," a "dating coach," and a "psychologist." Similar chatbot therapists have sparked ethics and privacy concerns due to some AI platforms saving chat conversations.

According to Character.AI's website, the startup is using its "own proprietary technology based on large language models" to enable users to create a variety of characters to act as virtual companions.

"Character.AI is bringing to life the science-fiction dream of open-ended conversations and collaborations with computers," the company's site states.

Data from Similarweb revealed that Character.AI's chatbots are most popular among 18- to 24-year-olds, who make up 60% of the website's traffic, Reuters reported. The AI startup claimed that it had 100 million monthly visits to its website in the first six months. The company noted that users spend an average of two hours daily chatting with virtual characters.

Character.AI recently released a group chat feature allowing subscribers to talk to up to five AI characters and five humans simultaneously.

Two sources told the news outlet that Google is considering investing "hundreds of millions of dollars" in the startup. Character.AI has an existing partnership with Google, using its cloud services and Tensor Processing Units to train its chatbots.

The sources claimed the chatbot startup could be valued at over $5 billion. In March, during a funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, the company was valued at $1 billion.

Google's investment could be structured as convertible notes, the source told Reuters, noting that talks are ongoing and the terms of the investment may change.

Neither Google nor Character.AI responded to a request for comment from Reuters.

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