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Business News/ Technology / AI will amplify capabilities but low-skilled workers will lose jobs: Gupshup CEO

AI will amplify capabilities but low-skilled workers will lose jobs: Gupshup CEO

Gupshup CEO Beerud Sheth talks to Mint in an interview on a wide range of topics - from the impact that AI could have on our everyday lives to the firm’s IPO plans.

Beerud Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, GupshupPremium
Beerud Sheth, Co-founder and CEO, Gupshup

IPO is not a destination and I see it just as an intermediate milestone. It is not imminent but may be later this year or sometime next year, focus on building value, said Beerud Sheth, co-founder and chief executive officer at Gupshup.

Gupshup is a platform that offers Artificial Intelligence (AI) for conversational messaging services for all kinds of enterprises. The firm entered into the coveted $1 billion club in 2021 and has seen substantial growth over the years.

Sheth spoke to Mint in an interview on a wide range of topics - right from the impact AI could create in our everyday lives to the firm’s IPO plans, to M&A pipeline.

Edited excerpts: 

Chat GPT is the buzzword at this moment and we understand that Gupshup has come out with ChatGPT-like chatbots for enterprises. What makes the product unique?

A. Large Language Model (LLM) like GPT or GPT3 is not a truth model or a knowledge model. If you ask the model some information it doesn’t know, it will still make up an answer. That’s how Google got beaten up when they introduced Bard. You could ask how to make an omelette on semiconductors, it would still make up a response. It is because the way a language model works is that it is going to estimate the next word. It doesn’t know whether it is right or wrong. That’s why it's called a generative model.

Well, this kind of a model doesn’t work for enterprises. Business interactions tend to be goal oriented and they need to have knowledge, accuracy and truth. What we do at Gupshup is we take these language models which have the language capability to give the specific knowledge and information by training it. Those information are usually in the internal documents which companies don’t keep in the public domain. We take these data and combine them with the models to create something that’s both articulate and accurate.

While it is revolutionary to see the way Chat GPT-3 works, there is widespread criticism over the ‘bias’ the technology reflects. Experts say that it is extremely difficult to detect these biases when they are deeply buried in the Large Language Model. Isn’t that a huge drawback?

Bias happens when models are loaded with content created by humans for centuries. There are different algorithmic ways to deal with these biases — be it racial, gender, caste or nationalities. This is also one key reason why the model has been put in public domain and it is important to think of this as a mass testing project more like a QA going on a global scale for AI but in the process of getting better. When it comes to our products, the slightly more fortunate thing is that we are building it for a specific enterprise where we can limit the conversation to a certain level and we keep fine-tuning it.

Chat GPT has raised concerns over the jobs it could eat out once it gains momentum and creeps into the enterprises going forward. You think it poses a real threat to the techies dealing with rudimentary work?

Maybe journalists, too (Laughs). I think technology like this will certainly have an impact. You can look at it two ways. This will have a substitution effect for some people while on the other hand this will also make us more productive, amplifying our capability. A lot of developers who are into coding have become more productive having had their workload cut by half with automation. The workers who are unskilled and are unable to provide the value added stuff may suffer because the basics will get automated. There are opportunities too. You now need more people to train these AI models and optimise them. If you step back at a higher level there’s no question that this is good for society. Individually there will be winners and losers. Society has to figure out how to balance.

This has been in the news for a while. When can we expect the Gupshup IPO?

It is not imminent but may be later this year or sometime next year. I would like to say focus on building value and the valuation will follow. Gupshup is in a good shape where we have high scale revenues over $250 million and fairly high growth which is more than 60%. As we continue to maintain that I’m sure whenever the markets open up the listing will happen. As you know the companies that went out in 2021, they had pretty good headlines for a brief time and now there’s a lot of negative headlines. IPO is not a destination and I see it just as an intermediate milestone.

There are clearly challenges when it comes to raising funds, what's been called the ‘funding winter’ owing to the macroeconomic factors. Are you concerned as industry leaders already predict this extending further?

You’re right. It is incumbent on entrepreneurs to adjust, react and navigate. This IPO window has been closed for about a year and half now. That’s the longest in about a hundred years. Companies have to be prepared if the winter lasts longer. The only way around is to make sure you have enough capital that you’re either profitable or moving towards profitability and to stay cautious about your spending.

Gupshup was on an acquisition spree lately having acquired four firms last year. Are there any further buyout plans?

No specific plans or announcements. We are always looking though. M&A decisions are made based on satisfying the company needs. The acquisitions we did last year were to fill in the product gaps. We are expanding globally to new geographies - LATAM, ME, SEA. We are looking for someone who can help us expand faster in these regions.

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Published: 23 Feb 2023, 02:53 PM IST
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