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A Fake Zoom Call

A Fake Zoom Call

The High-Stakes World of AI Start-ups: A Story of Rivalry and Deception

In the bustling landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), competition is fierce. The battle for customers, talent, funding, and the spotlight is relentless. Start-ups and tech giants alike are locked in a race to prove their worth, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. This article delves into the intriguing tale of two AI companies, Arthur AI and Arize AI, and how a bizarre case of corporate espionage and deception unfolded in their quest for dominance.

A Deceptive Zoom Encounter

Our story begins in April of the previous year when Arthur AI, an AI company based in New York, received an intriguing message from a start-up named OneOneThree. Yan Fung, the head of technology at OneOneThree, expressed a keen interest in acquiring Arthur AI’s technology and requested a demonstration. A Zoom meeting was arranged to showcase Arthur AI’s software to Mr. Fung and his colleague.

However, things took an unexpected turn during the video call. When Mr. Fung’s colleague was supposed to join, the name that appeared on the screen was Aparna Dhinakaran, a recognized founder of Arize AI, a direct rival to Arthur AI. This left the Arthur AI team baffled, wondering how this mix-up had occurred. The unexpected guest quickly left the meeting, with Mr. Fung claiming he had no knowledge of Ms. Dhinakaran.

Unraveling the Deception

Subsequent investigations revealed that Mr. Fung was likely Dat Ngo, an employee of Arize AI, and that OneOneThree appeared to be nothing more than a facade. This incident shines a light on the cutthroat competition in the AI industry, where rivalries and ambitions can sometimes lead to unethical tactics.

The Fierce Competition in AI

The AI industry is a hotbed of competition. Large tech companies are poaching talent from universities, while talented individuals are leaving these giants to establish their own AI start-ups. Venture capitalists are vying to invest in AI companies, often at sky-high valuations.

The competition among AI start-ups is especially intense. Success depends on forming the right partnerships, attracting major clients, and generating significant buzz in the industry. With so much at stake, some companies resort to extreme measures to get ahead.

The History of Overpromising

In the past, some AI companies have been known to overpromise what their technology can achieve. A study conducted by MMC in 2019 revealed that 40% of European start-ups labeled as AI companies did not use AI technology for any substantial business purposes. Such instances have raised concerns about the integrity of the AI industry.

Unconventional Tactics

While competition is natural in the business world, there are lines that should not be crossed. Using false identities or impersonating another company to gain an advantage is a step too far. The incident involving Arthur AI and Arize AI underscores the need for ethical conduct in the AI industry.

The Duel of Observability Software

Both Arize AI and Arthur AI specialize in “observability” software, which aids companies in monitoring and resolving issues with their AI models. Given the similarities in their offerings, customers often find themselves comparing the two and choosing the best fit for their needs.

Arize AI, founded in 2020 by Aparna Dhinakaran and Jason Lopatecki, has seen significant success, securing $61 million in investments and reaching a valuation of $155 million. Its impressive clientele includes industry giants like Uber, eBay, and Instacart. Arize AI has made a name for itself in the AI world, with a promising future ahead.

The Woman Behind Arize AI

Aparna Dhinakaran, a prominent figure in the AI start-up scene, is a co-founder of Arize AI. She is a recognized professional in the field, having worked at Uber, Apple, and TubeMogul. Her achievements have earned her a spot on Forbes’ “30 under 30” list, a prestigious honor for young professionals in business.

Outside the world of AI, Aparna is known for her adventurous spirit, having participated in the reality TV show “The Amazing Race” with her brother. Her passion for making AI successful, fair, and transparent shines through in her work and public appearances.

The Enigmatic Dat Ngo

On the other side of the story is Dat Ngo, the man behind the deceptive One One Three. His LinkedIn profile shows connections to various companies, including Point Predictive and Alliantgroup, before joining Arize AI in January 2022. The registration of OneOneThree in Delaware, a year before the incident, suggests that it may have served as a cover for covert operations.

An Unusual Connection to Why Labs

Curiously, OneOneThree was also found in the customer contact list of WhyLabs, a competitor to Arize AI. This connection suggests that OneOneThree might have attended an event hosted by WhyLabs, hinting at a complex web of interactions in the AI industry.

The Stealth Mode Deception

Mr. Fung, posing as the head of OneOneThree, justified the absence of a website, claiming they were in “stealth mode.” While this is not uncommon in the tech world, it is essential to maintain transparency in all dealings.

The Aftermath

Following the Zoom meeting, Arthur AI attempted to clarify the situation and requested Mr. Fung to sign a mutual nondisclosure agreement, a standard practice to protect proprietary information. However, Mr. Fung asked them to hold off on the NDA. The incident concluded with Mr. Ngo’s recruitment attempt, as he extended an offer to an Arthur AI employee to join Arize AI.


The AI industry’s high-stakes environment has given rise to intense competition, but it is crucial that all players adhere to ethical standards. Deception and impersonation not only tarnish a company’s reputation but also cast a shadow on the entire industry. In a sector where trust and innovation are paramount, maintaining integrity is key to success.


1. What is “observability” software in the context of AI?
2. How has the history of overpromising affected the AI industry?
3. What are the common tactics employed by AI start-ups to gain an advantage in the market?
4. What is the significance of maintaining transparency in the tech industry?
5. How can the AI industry ensure ethical conduct among its players?

The Future of Ethical AI

As the AI industry continues to evolve, it is crucial that businesses and individuals prioritize ethics and integrity. The deceptive incident involving Arthur AI and Arize AI serves as a stark reminder of the importance of ethical conduct in this highly competitive sector. Here, we delve into the steps the industry can take to ensure a more ethical and transparent future.

1. Industry Oversight

One way to ensure ethical behavior is through industry oversight and regulations. Establishing clear guidelines and standards for AI companies can help prevent deceptive practices and maintain transparency. Regulatory bodies and industry associations must play a pivotal role in shaping the future of AI.

2. Ethical Training and Education

Training and educating AI professionals about the ethical implications of their work is crucial. This includes understanding the consequences of deceptive practices, respecting privacy, and adhering to ethical standards. Companies should prioritize ongoing ethical training to create a culture of integrity.

3. Whistleblower Protections

To encourage employees to report unethical behavior, companies should implement robust whistleblower protection policies. This ensures that those who expose wrongdoing are shielded from retaliation and can safely voice their concerns.

4. Transparency in Partnerships

Clear and transparent partnerships are fundamental to maintaining trust in the AI industry. Companies should be forthcoming about their relationships, affiliations, and collaborations to avoid any ambiguity or potential for deception.

5. Accountability

Holding companies accountable for their actions is essential. When incidents of unethical behavior occur, there should be consequences and penalties in place to deter such actions in the future.

6. Public Awareness

Raising public awareness about ethical concerns in AI can also have a positive impact. Engaging with the public, sharing information, and fostering a sense of responsibility can help create a more ethical AI ecosystem.

7. Ethical AI Audits

Regular audits of AI systems and practices can identify any ethical lapses. These audits should be conducted by impartial third parties to ensure objectivity.

8. Collaboration

The AI community, including businesses, researchers, and policymakers, should collaborate to create a shared framework for ethical AI. This framework can help guide the industry toward a more responsible and transparent future.

In conclusion, the incident involving Arthur AI and Arize AI underscores the need for a more ethical and transparent AI industry. Maintaining integrity, transparency, and ethical behavior is not only crucial for individual companies but for the entire AI ecosystem. With concerted efforts from all stakeholders, we can build a future where AI is not only innovative but also responsible and trustworthy.


1. How can the AI industry ensure ethical conduct among its players?
2. What role can industry oversight and regulations play in promoting ethical AI?
3. Why is ethical training and education important for AI professionals?
4. How can the public be more aware of ethical concerns in the AI industry?
5. What are the potential consequences for companies that engage in unethical behavior in the AI sector?

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the significance of “observability” software in AI?

Observability software in AI is a crucial tool that allows companies to monitor and troubleshoot issues with their AI models. It provides real-time insights into the performance and behavior of these models, aiding in the identification of problems and facilitating rapid solutions. This software is invaluable for ensuring that AI systems operate effectively and reliably.

2. How has the history of overpromising affected the AI industry?

The history of overpromising in the AI industry has led to skepticism and concerns about the credibility of AI companies. When businesses make grandiose claims about the capabilities of their AI technology but fail to deliver on those promises, it erodes trust within the industry. To foster trust and reliability, it is essential for AI companies to be transparent and truthful about what their technology can achieve.

3. What are the common tactics employed by AI start-ups to gain an advantage in the market?

AI start-ups often use various strategies to gain an edge in the competitive market. These tactics may include forming strategic partnerships, securing high-profile clients, generating extensive media coverage, and seeking significant investment. Additionally, some companies resort to aggressive tactics, although these may not always align with ethical standards.

4. What is the significance of maintaining transparency in the tech industry?

Transparency in the tech industry is crucial for building trust among stakeholders, including customers, investors, and partners. When companies are open and honest about their operations, affiliations, and practices, it fosters a sense of credibility and reliability. This transparency is especially important in the AI industry, where complex algorithms and data handling require a high level of trust.

5. How can the AI industry ensure ethical conduct among its players?

Ensuring ethical conduct in the AI industry requires a multifaceted approach. This includes industry oversight, regulations, ethical training and education, whistleblower protections, transparency in partnerships, and accountability for unethical behavior. Collaboration within the AI community is also crucial to establish a shared framework for responsible and ethical AI practices. These measures collectively contribute to a more ethical and trustworthy AI ecosystem.

If you have any additional questions or concerns related to the AI industry or ethical practices, feel free to reach out for further clarification.

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