How Perplexity Founder Built a $1B Startup in 2 Years

Angelina Yang
4 min readJun 21, 2024

Arvind Srinivas never imagined he would one day be the co-founder and CEO of a rapidly growing AI startup valued at $1 billion. But that’s exactly what happened when he and his co-founder Dennis launched Perplexity AI in December 2022.

Arvind’s journey to founding Perplexity began in his native India, where he grew up with a deep fascination for algorithms and programming. After winning a machine learning contest, he decided to dive deeper into the field, eventually pursuing a PhD in AI and deep learning at UC Berkeley.

It was during a summer internship at OpenAI in 2018 that Arvind had a pivotal realization. “I went to OpenAI and I felt like really bad because people were so much better than me,” he recalls. “It was a big reality check that, okay, I could improve a lot more in programming. I could improve a lot more in first principles thinking, my clarity of thoughts.”

This experience motivated Arvind to double down on his AI research, working closely with his advisor to understand the emerging field of large language models (LLMs) like GPT-1, which had just been published. “We spent a lot of time holidays, weekends, just learning and coding and just understanding all these things,” he says. “And we did this for two years.”

Image credit: Search Engine Journal