It’s no secret that much-hyped generative AI startup Stability AI has been having a tough time of it recently. The company burst onto the scene with a $101m Series A in October, off the back of the release of open source AI image generator Stable Diffusion (which Stability AI funded), making it Europe’s leading new player in the booming generative AI sector.
But since a leaked pitch deck seen by Sifted raised questions about the company overstating its AI capabilities while raising its Series A, it’s reported to be struggling to raise funding and has allegedly failed to pay staff and taxes on time (both claims that founder Emad Mostaque denies).
Stability AI — once the poster child of European generative AI — is now competing with a host of other well-funded players like Paris-based Mistral vying to be the continent’s go-to provider of AI models to businesses.
Now the company is also dealing with a mass exodus of senior executives, in roles ranging from product design to key strategic deal making.
A Stability AI spokesperson told Sifted that, over the past six months, it “has increased headcount by 30% and launched close to 20 products, demonstrating the phenomenal and exciting growth trajectory of this company. We have more senior engineers than we did six months ago, and as a fast-growing startup we continue to invest in talent”.
They added that the company is “making a number of strategic senior hires who bring a wealth of experience to the company as we continue to scale, enter new markets and engage with policymakers internationally on the future of AI”.
Here’s the list of senior execs who have left the business in recent months.
Christian Cantrell — former VP of product, October 2022 - April 2023
Cantrell was the person responsible for converting Stable Diffusion into a commercial product, designing its paid-for software DreamStudio and setting up integrations with other apps like Adobe Photoshop.
Louis Castricato — former LLM lead and cofounder of CarperAI, April 2022 - July 2023
Castricato was one of Stability AI’s longest-standing machine learning research scientists. He cofounded CarperAI — one of Stability AI’s research labs that specialises in a machine learning approach called reinforcement learning from human feedback.
Scott Draves — VP engineering, January 2023 - May 2023
While Draves spent only five months at Stability AI, he’d previously served as an engineering leader at Facebook for four years. He also spent more than four years as an engineer at Google.
Stanislav Fort — former LLM lead, February 2023 - August 2023
Fort is another AI researcher with a strong CV to have left Stability AI. He was previously a research scientist at Silicon Valley-based AI safety startup Anthropic, and before that held roles at Google Brain and DeepMind.
David Ha — former head of research, October 2022 - June 2023
Ha leaving Stability AI is perhaps the highest-profile exit from the company to date. As head of research, he brought invaluable credentials and experience from his six-plus years working at Google’s AI lab.
Patrick Hebron — former VP of R&D, January 2023 - July 2023
Hebron is another Stability AI leaver who brought valuable institutional experience to the company. Previously, he was founder and director of the “Machine Intelligence Design groups” at Adobe and Nvidia, according to his LinkedIn.
Ren Ito — former COO, 2022 - June 2023
Ito was formerly CEO of the European division of Mercari, “Japan’s first pre-IPO startup unicorn”, according to his LinkedIn. Mostaque said in June that Ito was “let go” — the former COO did not respond to Sifted’s request for an interview.
Kenneth Lee — former head of talent acquisition, November 2022 - July 2023
As Stability AI bleeds executive talent, its lead recruiter has also left the company. Lee had previously held talent acquisition roles at Silicon Valley-based startups including Credit Karma, KeepTruckin (now Motive) and Eight Sleep.
Nathan Lile — former chief of staff, September 2022 - July 2023
Lile worked in the office of the CEO and led Stability’s deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company’s cloud computer provider, according to his LinkedIn.
Bill Marino — former product manager, January 2023 - July 2023
Marino’s LinkedIn describes him as Stability AI’s “most senior product manager”, reporting directly to the CTO, and says he was responsible for turning both image and language models into products.