See a yr within the lifetime of San Francisco’s AI start-ups fueling the increase

In an opulent ballroom on a Saturday night time, the traditional pump-up anthem “Eye of the Tiger” blared as synthetic intelligence fans tapped away on their keyboards. This was a hackathon — an occasion the place members have a set period of time to collaborate on a mission they current to the gang — at a sprawling mansion about half-hour south of San Francisco.

As knowledgeable freelance photographer, I’ve spent the previous decade documenting the folks and tradition of Silicon Valley. Ever since OpenAI’s ChatGPT debuted in November 2022, numerous entrepreneurs have been impressed to make their very own generative AI instruments. Now, almost each new start-up has an AI component — expertise that automates easy duties, for instance, or a chatbot that gives psychological well being suggestions.

Up to now yr and a half, entrepreneurs from world wide have flocked to San Francisco to be a part of this AI revolution. Many start-up founders and their groups stay and work collectively to allow them to focus intently on constructing their corporations. And evenings just like the AI hackathon I visited in March 2023 have grow to be Silicon Valley’s thought of enjoyable.

Right here’s a peek inside that world.

extra: is focused on emerging tech, including many AI companies, and allows the companies it funds to work out of its San Francisco Fort Mason space.
Apoorva Mahajan, heart, and Mo Mahmood, proper, take a break for a lightsaber battle within the {hardware} lab at Founders Inc., a start-up incubator in San Francisco in March 2023. On the time, Mahajan was engaged on a brain-computer interface system and Mahmood was working at a robotics firm.
Michaela Carmein (second from right) watches demos while helping out during the HF0 Demo Day where she entertained guests by pretending to be an AI robot named “Guinevere” during the event for the start-up fellowship in San Francisco, Calf., on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. She talked to guests in character throughout the entire event. Carmein’s close friend, Emily Liu, is one of the co-founders of HF0, and she helped her friend create a memorable event with the costume and act. Demo days at other programs can often be routine events with start-ups mostly giving slide deck presentations, but the HF0 team added creative details throughout their demo day to make the event fun for guests.
Michaela Carmein, second from proper, dressed as an AI robotic named “Guinevere,” watches entrepreneurs’ displays from an overflow room at an April 2023 demo day for start-up founders who’ve accomplished the selective 12-week residency Hacker Fellowship Zero. Such occasions, which give attention to founders’ technical talks, can typically be stale, however Carmein’s act was one in every of a number of artistic prospers.
extra // organized by Cerebral Valley. The group — which shares the nickname for the San Francisco neighborhood of Hayes Valley, where many AI start-ups are based — found that venture capital firms, many of which moved to hybrid or remote work, had office space to spare
Taylor Schmidt (second from right) and other guests of the “Cerebral Valley X Blumberg AI Builders Co-Work” event work on their laptops at the office of the venture capital firm Blumberg Capital in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, March 16, 2023. The Cerebral Valley organization has been hosting regular co-working events, often at the offices of venture capital firms, where individuals building AI can come together, work, and create community with one another. Such meet-ups are a way to help with what can often be the loneliness of start-up life where founders are usually working around the clock on their companies.
AI entrepreneurs, together with Taylor Schmidt, second from proper, who’s constructing an AI design assistant for architects and inside designers, plug away on their laptops whereas attending a co-working occasion on the San Francisco workplace of a enterprise capital agency in March 2023. Cerebral Valley, the group internet hosting the occasion, goals to assist start-up founders escape the isolating work of constructing an organization.
extra: April 2023 demo event where start-ups would present their companies... After the presentations, guests drank tea and mingled with founders.

Evan Stites-Clayton, left, and Dave Fontenot, proper, co-founders of the start-up residency Hacker Fellowship Zero, take a look at pictures that had been used to entertain visitors as they checked in at an April 2023 demo occasion. Volunteers requested attendees to establish the variations between similar-looking pictures to show they’re people, not robots.

EXTRA: Hackathons are big networking opportunities, with participants frequently meeting people who go on to become co-founders, teammates, friends, even romantic partners. // Jacob Cole (center) leads a Qigong session in the backyard as a break for people competing in the hackathon during the AGI House LLM Hackathon at the “AGI House,” a hacker house in Hillsborough, California on March 25, 2023. The one-day hackathon was planned around the release of GPT-4 and drew hundreds of excited attendees. Hackathons are an opportunity for individuals to build something in a set amount of time, testing and refining their skills, but they are also social events. While coding away, people make friends and build community with one another.
Jacob Cole, heart, leads others in Qigong, an historical Chinese language follow of optimizing vitality inside the physique, thoughts and spirit, within the AGI Home yard throughout a March 2023 hackathon in Hillsborough, Calif. By means of Qigong, Cole, a hackathon competitor, needed to share “the unbelievable feeling of not letting the vitality escape, not letting the data escape.”
Kelly Peng, the CEO and co-chief expertise officer of Kura Applied sciences, and Yosun Chang, proper, use Apple Imaginative and prescient Execs whereas they put together to current at a robotic hackathon on the Hillsborough AGI Home in February 2024. That night time, Peng, who lives on the home, confirmed off a telepresence robotic, proven backside left, that she and her group constructed. When paired with augmented-reality glasses, the robotic can permit somebody to go to a spot just about.
A volunteer at the GAI Collective Summit, a meet-up event, holds up the number of his discussion group to his group knows where to gather at the co-working space Werqwise in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, June 6, 2023. The GAI Collective organizes meet-up events where AI interested individuals gather to discuss the technology of generative AI. At their summit events, attendees are given a number when they check in and these numbers are used to form discussion groups. Throughout the night, the event rotates between small group discussions and then breaking out into networking with the whole crowd.
A volunteer at an AI meetup at a San Francisco co-working house in June 2023 holds up a quantity so his fellow discussion-group members know the place to assemble. Attendees debated such questions as “What is going to people at all times be higher at than AI?” and “What essentially offers us, as people, which means and objective?”
Aqeel Ali (left) and Kevin Baragona work while attending the “Ghosted in SF: Come Code it Off” event at the office of Exa, an AI powered search engine start-up, in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, September 30, 2023. The start-up invited friends and members of the AI community to come code at their place for the night after one of the company’s teammates got ghosted on a date the weekend before. They jokingly invited people to come over and work with them instead of wasting another Saturday night being ghosted. The company offices are located in an apartment many of the teammates live in and directly above the apartment housing another start-up, Brev.Dev., which has turned the building into a gathering spot for the AI community.

Aqeel Ali, left, works on a mission with the enter of Kevin Baragona on the workplace of Exa, an AI-powered search engine start-up, in San Francisco in September 2023. The beginning-up — whose members stay and work collectively in an house above one other start-up — invited their buddies to a Saturday night time coding occasion. The vibe resembled a membership plus co-working house: Digital music performed and housemates whipped up mac and cheese as they labored into the early-morning hours.

EXTRA: The event was meant to foster support and inclusion for women in the male-dominated industry. // Tammie Siew, a partner of the venture capital firm Pebblebed, (left) and attendees of a “Women in AI Lunch” stand together before breaking into a mingling game during the event at Pebblebed’s office in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, February 19, 2023. The event, which gathered women working in AI for an afternoon of meeting each other, discussing their projects and exchanging contacts, was co-hosted by the organization Cerebralvalley.ai and the company Speedify.ai with help from and organizing from Siew and Pebblebed.
Tammie Siew, left, a associate on the enterprise capital agency Pebblebed, stands to play an icebreaker sport at a February 2023 networking lunch for ladies in AI at Pebblebed’s workplace in San Francisco’s Mission District. In response to the World Financial Discussion board, solely 22 % of AI professionals globally are girls.
EXTRA:  When asked to create an image of “The city that never sleeps with bright lights and endless entertainment,” Reibman generated a nighttime city scape while Hu’s image was a bit creepy, eliciting laughs from the crowd. // Entrepreneur Alex Reibman, of the start-up AgentOps.AI, and Jesse Hu (right) participate in a prompt battle moderated by Alessio Fanelli (center), a partner at the VC firm Decibel Partners, at the “AI World’s Fair” event hosted by Decibel and the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub at the hub in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, June 8, 2023. The event included demos from artificial intelligence start-ups, games and the prompt battle. In prompt battles, people compete against each other on-stage using text-to-image software to produce AI generated images. The audience then votes on who created the best images.
Alex Reibman, left, and Jesse Hu, proper, face off in a immediate battle with enterprise capitalist Alessio Fanelli, heart, refereeing at an AI networking occasion in June 2023. It was a kind of Twenty first-century World’s Truthful, with attendees perusing a showcase of AI start-ups after which watching a immediate battle the place opponents entered strings of phrases to get AI software program to generate photos.
An individual dressed as the hugging face emoji dances with attendees of the event “Open Source AI Meetup with Hugging Face CEO” during the event at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California on March 31, 2023. Almost 4,300 people RSVPed on Partiful with event organizers referring to it as “AI Woodstock” due to the massive interest in attending. Hugging Face is a company that develops tools for building applications using machine learning. AI builders were spread throughout the event giving demos of what they are working on.
A person dressed because the “hugging face” emoji dances at an occasion billed because the “Woodstock of AI,” the place hundreds of individuals gathered on the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco in March 2023. Earlier, the CEO of Hugging Face, an organization that develops instruments for constructing functions utilizing machine studying, spoke about open-source AI growth. AI builders demonstrated what they’re engaged on. Later, when the gang dissipated, there was lastly room to bop.
EXTRA: The goal was to use AI to devise solutions to human challenges. // Participants in the “AI For Good” Hackathon work on their laptops as well as take a break to rest during the event at the co-working space Shack15 in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, California on March 25, 2023. The hackathon, organized by Cerebral Valley and Internet Activism, featured 24 hours of coding to build projects, followed by demos. Cerebral Valley is an organization that sprung up to help organize a community around the many people moving to San Francisco to work in AI. They plan co-working days, hackathons, networking meet-ups and other events.

Members work (and nap) at a 24-hour hackathon at a co-working house within the San Francisco Ferry Constructing in March 2023. The winners included a mission to assist forestall AI from getting used for spam calls, a device to assist children study to learn and a platform for therapists to enhance psychological well being care. A yr later, the AI increase remains to be going sturdy, with some weekends providing a number of hackathons for entrepreneurs to select from.

About this story

To seize these pictures, Laura Morton was invited into occasions hosted by the AGI Home, Hacker Fellowship Zero, Cerebral Valley, Web Activism, Decibel, Latent House, the GAI Collective; the live-work places of work of Exa and Brev. Dev; the places of work of Blumberg Capital, Pebblebed and Founders Inc.; the co-working areas Werqwise and SHACK15.

The images for this text was supported by a grant from the Pierre and Alexandra Boulat Affiliation.

Design and growth by Michael Domine. Photograph Modifying by Monique Woo. Modifying by Lisa Bonos and Karly Domb Sadof. Design modifying by Betty Chavarria.

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