Thank you all for your comments!
Just to clarify, I also open with speed boosting technologies. I know the Krynn have a 3 planet home system, so maybe the AI recognizes this and build two more cheap colony ships? I didn't know the trick with the constructors, but the Krynn went Malevolent Ideology, so that wouldn't work. Maybe they got lucky in scouting and focused on rapid early expansion. But what strikes me as odd is that they also seem to have more techs than me, and were able to build a few starbases. While I was barely able to squeeze out a constructor (I don't use the default constructor design) and two colony ships. I don't see where they cut corners. If the AI manages that with out bonuses (as it should on Normal), then kudos to the AI and the guys who programmed it
As the Yor, I spent my starting credits on Assembly projects to get my population up, which hardly leaves room for buying ships.