The generative AI boom has given us access to increasingly powerful chatbots from a variety of sources. While there are a lot of similarities, each has its own unique characteristics.

For example, CNET’s expert reviews have shown that: OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4 offers more-thorough answers, can effectively parse data, and answers more-difficult, complex questions; Anthropic’s Claude is more conversational, gives direct answers, asks follow-up questions and sometimes links to sources; and Google’s Gemini has a connection to the open internet, which helps provide up-to-date answers.

Those are just three options.

The AI chat platform Poe was born out of the notion that one single AI model will never be perfect for everything. Launched by Q&A platform Quora to the public in February 2023, Poe lets you ask questions of, get answers from, and have conversations with multiple AI-powered bots.

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It’s a new way of interacting with gen AI. Instead of you selecting a single model and sticking to it, Poe lets you compare and contrast models to find the right fit for your specific need in any given moment. (Poe doesn’t have its own large language model.) 

In April, Quora added the ability to choose from multiple chatbots. Before that, users could query only one bot per chat.

“Multi-bot chat is important because different models have different strengths and weaknesses,” Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo wrote in a blog post.

With Poe, you can call up any of its 70-something “official” bots, or those created by Poe or from third parties — including Claude 3.5 Sonnet, GPT-4o, Gemini 1.5 Pro and Dall-E 3 — by using the @ symbol in the chat interface.

To sign up, you have to first verify your email and phone number. From there you can, for instance, start with a query to Claude 3 Opus in the chat window and compare its response to ChatGPT-4 with a click. You can do further research with Gemini 1.5 Pro and then mention Poe’s Web Search bot (or the Gemini 1.5 Pro Search or Gemini 1.5 Search bots) to pull in up-to-date information and fact-check.

AI chatbot models “have different data that they’re able to access during training,” said Spencer Chan, product lead at Poe. “They have different company policies around what’s OK to say and what’s not OK to say. And we thought that it would be great to build a product that lets users explore all of the possibilities of this new technology and access all of these models from all these different model providers in one product.”

The name Poe is an acronym for Platform for Open Exploration (and not a reference to American writer Edgar Allan Poe, as I first thought).

One advantage is that Poe allows access to the latest version of generative AI models from third parties through a single $20 per month subscription fee, so you don’t have to pony up the individual fees, which are often around $20 per month for each that charges.

Poe has “millions of users,” Chan said. Quora had 400 million unique monthly visitors as of February 2023.

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Beyond consumers, Chan said, Poe seeks to provide access to developers who are building models or applications on top of the models.

“A developer building on top of our platform can use whatever the latest model is that’s the best at the current point in time,” Chan said. “Whereas I think if you’re a developer who builds on any one particular model provider, you’re betting on them being in the lead.”

Poe also offers a revenue-sharing program to help developers monetize their products.

The platform will continue to add new models as they come out.

“We want to make it easy for people to access and use the best model for the task at hand,” Chan said, “and really give people the right tools to do amazing things that are possible with these new technologies that are going to keep coming out.”

Quora raised $75 million from Andreessen Horowitz in January to help grow Poe.

Editors’ note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are labeled accordingly. The note you’re reading is attached to articles that deal substantively with the topic of AI but are created entirely by our expert editors and writers. For more, see our AI policy.

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