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OpenAI Chairman Bret Taylor Launches AI Chatbot Startup Sierra

OpenAI Chairman Bret Taylor has launched Sierra, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot startup, aiming to develop conversational AI agents specifically designed for businesses.

Taylor told Bloomberg Technology that Sierra operates at a different layer of the AI stack compared to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, dismissing concerns about potential competition, Bloomberg reported Wednesday (Feb. 14).

Sierra has raised $110 million in funding and employs 30 people, according to the report.

Sierra’s co-founder, Clay Bavor, formerly of Google, said in the report that Sierra’s conversational AI capabilities go beyond traditional chatbots, with the potential to revolutionize customer service and other industries.

Sierra has secured partnerships with enterprise customers like WeightWatchersSonos and Sirius XM Holdings, per the report.

Taylor was previously co-CEO of Salesforce and was appointed as OpenAI’s board chair as the firm sought stability after the ouster and return of CEO Sam Altman, according to the report.

OpenAI has faced questions about conflicts of interest among its board members, the report said. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, stepped down from the board due to his investments in AI companies. Adam D’Angelo, another board member, continues to serve despite his involvement with Quora, a platform that uses AI chatbots.

Sierra has attracted interest from investors, with Benchmark leading an early investment, and Sequoia Capital expected to lead an $85 million investment that would value Sierra at nearly $1 billion, per the report.

Taylor said that AI has the potential to disrupt industries like customer service, leading to job displacement in the short term, according to the report. However, he also believes that AI will create new job opportunities as the technology evolves.

It was reported in January that Sierra had recently emerged from stealth mode and already gained substantial traction in the market. The enterprise-oriented AI startup aims to apply the technology to tackle critical business challenges.

The report of the launch of Sierra comes on the same day that PayPal-backed Rasa announced that it has raised $30 million in a Series C round to grow its generative conversational AI platform for enterprises.

Rasa aims to redefine how businesses use generative AI-powered chat and voice platforms at scale, the firm said when announcing its new funding.