7 March 2024 TB Members Calling


TB Members Calling #92 | Ariadna Font Llitjós: “Despite my experience in tech, when you start a startup, you must be ready to learn (and unlearn)”

7 March 2024 TB Members Calling

Ariadna Font Llitjós (Barcelona, 1974) left Twitter in November 2022 after receiving that famous email from Elon Musk, the tech mogul who stormed into what’s now called ‘X’, laying off over 3,000 employees. Until then, ‘Ari’, with a Ph.D. in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence in the United States, had been leading Twitter’s Machine Learning platform for over 3 years as Director of Engineering. In fact, she established responsible AI as a primary goal in the company, allowing her to expand the ethics team with leading engineers and researchers in the field. Previously, she also worked as Director of Engineering at IBM, developing the first generation of AI applications.

After leaving Twitter, however, she left the blue bird behind to fly and start her own venture. ‘Ari’ Font is the co-founder and CEO of Alinia, a startup that uses advanced technologies and open-source LLMs to tailor content generated by these models to companies’ policies and values.

On the occasion of MWC-4YFN 2024, from Tech Barcelona, we took advantage of our agreement with LEVEL Airlines to bring Ari Font from New York; because we couldn’t miss the opportunity to speak with a ‘local hero’ from Barcelona with such international impact.


TB: What is the purpose of your project?

AF: Our mission is to help companies move beyond experimenting with LLMs to capture the real value of these technologies with tangible impact, both in terms of short-term return on investment and in making the internet a safer place.


TB: Where is it currently and where do you see it in two years?

AF: We raised a pre-seed round before Christmas and just hired the seventh and final member of the founding team. In two years, I hope to have found a good product-market fit, with over 1,000 customers and a team of 50 excellent professionals, more than half of whom are in Barcelona.


TB: A good idea you’ve had.

AF: Having our first offsite in Cadaqués.


TB: What is the biggest challenge you have faced?

AF: Without a doubt, starting a business. Although I have many years of experience in the tech world, when starting a business, you have to be willing and prepared to do everything and learn everything. And if necessary, unlearn first, as what works in established companies probably won’t work in a startup with seven people.


TB: The best advice you’ve been given.

AF: “You already have the ‘no’, now go for the ‘yes’.” And, “not everything is as bad as it seems, nor is it as good as it seems.”


TB: A professional reference that inspires you.

AF: Anna Navarro Schlegel is unstoppable!


TB: A technology that will shape the future.

AF: LLMs and generative AI. They are already shaping the present, and there is still a long way to go.


TB: In-person or remote?

AF: Hybrid.


TB: A startup or company.

AF: On, the Swiss sneaker startup, for the culture it adopted from the beginning.


TB: What do you do to unwind?

AF: During the day, I go for walks with my dogs, and at night, I spend time with my family and watch movies.


TB: A book to recommend.

AF: Well, since we’re going full throttle: “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.


TB: A series, movie, or song that defines your life right now.

AF: “Wild”.


TB: A recipe, a restaurant.

AF: I would normally say “pa amb tomàquet,” but with “llesca de pa de pagès.” However, today I have to choose the tasting menu at the Nectari restaurant.


TB: A place in the world.

AF: Barcelona.


TB: Where would you invest 100k?

AF: I would invest half in badass founders who break all the molds, even that of the founder. And the other half in traveling around the world, getting to know and understand new cultures and places.


TB: If you weren’t an entrepreneur…

AF: I would have joined another startup as a founding member, taking care of the product and user experience part. Something I do quite often and enjoy is acting as a “professional and life coach.”


TB: What is Tech Barcelona for you?

AF: The entrepreneurial ecosystem of my city and a great support network, as well as the perfect excuse to come to Barcelona more often. Thank you!