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FTX seeks to sell its stake in AI firm Anthropic amid bankruptcy

FTX, the crypto exchange that filed for bankruptcy in November 2022, is looking to sell its entire stake in Anthropic, an artificial intelligence company that aims to create human-like general intelligence.

According to court documents filed on Feb. 3, FTX submitted a motion to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware seeking to sell Anthropic Series B Preferred Stock, including rights or interests therein, owned by its sister company, Alameda Research.

Anthropic is a secretive AI startup founded by former OpenAI researchers, including Ilya Sutskever and Dario Amodei. The company raised $530 million in its Series B round in April 2022, valuing it at $5.6 billion. FTX’s former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, was one of the investors in the round, using funds that were allegedly sourced from customers’ deposits on FTX.

Bankman-Fried, who was once the richest person in crypto with a net worth of over $16 billion, is currently facing criminal charges for fraud, money laundering, and market manipulation. He is accused of using FTX to manipulate the prices of various cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Dogecoin, and siphoning off millions of dollars from unsuspecting customers. He is also being sued by several regulators and investors for violating securities laws and breaching fiduciary duties.

FTX, which was once the third-largest crypto exchange by trading volume, collapsed in November 2022 after a series of hacks, lawsuits, and regulatory actions. The exchange filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, claiming to have more than $10 billion in liabilities and less than $1 billion in assets.

One of FTX’s most valuable assets is its stake in Anthropic, which has grown significantly since its Series B round. Anthropic raised another $1.2 billion in its Series C round in August 2022, valuing it at $12 billion. In December 2022, the company announced that it had achieved a major breakthrough in creating artificial general intelligence (AGI), a level of intelligence that can perform any task that a human can. Anthropic claimed that its AGI system, dubbed Athena, had surpassed human performance on several benchmarks, including natural language understanding, computer vision, and reasoning. The announcement sparked a surge in demand for Anthropic’s equity, pushing its valuation to $18 billion.

FTX is seeking to capitalize on this demand by selling its stake in Anthropic, which is currently worth about $1.4 billion, according to court filings. FTX is also seeking to shorten the review timeline for its sale motion, targeting a resolution in the bankruptcy court’s forthcoming meeting on Feb. 22.

“The flexibility to adjust the sale timeline will help facilitate such cooperation, including by allowing the Debtors to capture excess demand for Anthropic’s equity securities channeled from any of Anthropic’s financing rounds. Further, given the significant number and value of Anthropic Shares held by the Debtors, the flexibility to sell portions of Anthropic Shares at different times will help the Debtors monetize their interest,” the motion stated.

The sale of FTX’s stake in Anthropic could generate some much-needed cash for the exchange, which is facing a long and complex bankruptcy process. However, it could also face opposition from other creditors, who may argue that the sale undervalues FTX’s interest in Anthropic or that the proceeds should be distributed among them. Moreover, the sale could also raise ethical and legal questions about the future of Anthropic and its AGI technology, which could have profound implications for humanity and society.

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