Former Circle policy VP joins Bitcoiner Erik Voorhees in new AI venture

Former Circle policy VP joins Bitcoiner Erik Voorhees in new AI venture
People & culture
Teana Baker-Taylor (left) left Circle earlier this year and joins Erik Voorhees (right) to work on a generative AI app. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • Teana Baker-Taylor left Circle in February.
  • She joins Shapeshift founder Erik Voorhees building a new decentralised AI platform.
  • The platform, Venice, is an open-source, privacy-geared generative AI app.

A new venture is bringing leaders from the crypto industry into convergence with the booming artificial intelligence industry.

Teana Baker-Taylor is the former vice president of policy and regulatory strategy at stablecoin issuer Circle.

She is joining Erik Voorhees, an early Bitcoin adopter and founder of decentralised crypto platform ShapeShift, as chief operating officer in a venture that launched on Friday.

Venice is an open-source generative AI platform that promises not to retain any user data or history. Data is instead stored on the users’ browser.

“Crypto raised issues around sovereignty,” Baker-Taylor told DL News, with people questioning “is your money really yours?”

The same trend is now emerging on how data is being used and repurposed.

The Venice platform will target a mainstream audience and compete with popular generative AI bots like ChatGPT. It will likely appeal to users who care about privacy.

“If you’re using a trained, proprietary model that is offered by a commercial entity, versus an open-source model that has publishable code that you can see and critically assess, for some people that will be a major differentiator,” she said.

Join the community to get our latest stories and updates

Bootstrapped project

“Venice has been my entire priority since last fall,” Voorhees told DL News in an email.

“The regulations and licensing regime that is coming for AI is going to be detrimental to civilisational progress,” he said. “The only solution is open-source software and permissionless, decentralised architecture.”

Voorhees is the sole investor.

“We have no need for external funding,” he said. The platform will have a subscription model in place for unlimited use.

Venice is registered in the tech-friendly US state of Wyoming.

“We don’t have any regulatory concerns,” Baker-Taylor said. “We’re just a front end to provide access to the average person to open-source models.”

Venice is a community partner of Morpheus AI, an open-source peer-to-peer network that runs on the Arbitrum blockchain.

Blockchain and AI convergence

Baker-Taylor left Circle in February after almost two years. She previously held leadership roles at other major crypto companies including Crypto.com and Binance, as well as in banking giants HSBC and Citigroup.

“I had been operating in the trenches of policy in crypto since 2017. It just felt like an interesting time to look at a new challenge,” she said.

“We’re going to start to see a big convergence between blockchain and AI,” she added, a trend that is already emerging.

“Decentralised AI and blockchain technology are both essentially leaning into the true innovation of open-source technology.”

Inbar Priess is a Regulation Correspondent at DL News. Got a tip? Email her at inbar@dlnews.com.

Related Topics