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Artificial intelligence Startup Anthropic Names Indian American Krishna Rao as its First Chief Financial Officer

Artificial intelligence Startup Anthropic Names Indian American Krishna Rao as its First Chief Financial Officer

  • The former Global Head of Corporate & Business Development at Airbnb, he most recently was CFO at Fanatics Commerce.

Strategic finance leader Krishna Rao has joined artificial intelligence startup Anthropic as its chief financial officer. The Indian American will play a crucial role in ‘shaping Anthropic’s financial strategy and operations as we continue to build on our strong enterprise momentum and advance our international expansion,” the company said in a May 21 announcement. 

Most recently, Krishna was CFO at Fanatics Commerce, before which he worked at Cedar, a healthcare payments and patient engagement platform, where he led both the finance function and operational initiatives.

Before that, he served as Global Head of Corporate & Business Development and led Corporate and financial planning and analysis at Airbnb. He helped navigate the company through the COVID-19 pandemic and played a key role in raising over $10 billion in equity and debt capital, including Airbnb’s IPO and private financings.

In a statement, Krishna said he’s “thrilled” to join the startup “at such a pivotal moment in the company’s journey. Noting that “Anthropic’s mission to build transformative AI systems that benefit humanity deeply resonates” with him, he said he is looking forward “to working with the exceptional team at Anthropic to build a strong financial foundation that will support the responsible development and deployment of our technology.”

Before Airbnb, Rao worked as a Principal at Blackstone in the Private Equity Group in New York where he was involved in the evaluation and execution of transactions in the consumer, retail, business services, and financial technology sectors. In this capacity, he was on the board of three private companies and an observer on a public company board.

In an interview published on the Yale University website, Rao admitted that “at different points” in his career, he “struggled with what to do next: how much risk to take on, when to move to the next role, and where he would learn the most.” He talked about his “transition from investing to working in the technology sector was not without hurdles.” 

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His move from Blackstone to Airbnb, was “particularly difficult because the jobs were so different,” he said. “Working effectively within a company is challenging and requires a sustained focus on cross-functional collaboration,” he continued. He “wasn’t very good at working across teams, functions, and geographies” when he joined Airbnb,” he recalled, “because I had never spent time in an operating role. He was “fortunate to have understanding peers and generous mentors that taught me how to navigate a fast-growing company and get things done. Those lessons were invaluable both at the time and as I moved into other roles.” 

Before Blackstone, he worked at Bain & Company as a management consultant in San Francisco and New Delhi where he focused on growth strategy and private equity due diligence engagements. Rao received an A.B., summa cum laude, from Harvard College and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

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