OpenAI launched a $100 million startup fund, through which it and its partners will invest in early-stage AI companies tackling major problems. Among those partners as well as investors in the fund is Microsoft. The company said that selected companies for it will get early access to future systems, support from OpenAI’s team, and credits on Microsoft Azure.
The OpenAI Startup Fund further extends the tech giant’s collaboration with San Francisco-based OpenAI. Roughly a year ago, Microsoft decided to invest $1 billion in OpenAI to jointly develop new technologies for Microsoft Azure. In exchange, OpenAI agreed to license some of its intellectual property to the tech giant, which the company would then package and sell to partners.
During the following few months, OpenAI released a Microsoft Azure-powered API that lets developers explore GPT-3’s capabilities. In 2020, Microsoft announced that it would exclusively license GPT-3 to develop and deliver AI solutions for customers. The company also announced that it would create new products that harness the power of natural language generation.
This week, the company made another announcement. According to the statement, it would deeply integrate GPT-3 with Power App, specifically for formula generation. The AI-powered features will allow a customer to build an e-commerce app. Companies are using GPT-3 for various purposes. A startup called Vial is using it to analyze customer feedback, identifying “themes, emotions, and more”. Fable Studio is leveraging the model to create dialogue for virtual reality experiences. Moreover, Algolia is using it to improve its web search products.
OpenAI, Microsoft, and global issues
The OpenAI Startup Fund is not a typical corporate venture fund. OpenAI plans to make big early bets on a relatively small number of companies. Currently, it is not clear how $100 million will be divided or disbursed. However, it seems to be a limited fund, not just the 2021 round. OpenAI will be looking for companies that are working on serious issues, like healthcare and climate change. It could consider productivity improvement as well, presumably like the GPT-3 powered natural language coding Microsoft presented two days ago.
The minimal application process suggests that OpenAI expects a large number of applications. Part of the application is a one-minute video. The selection team will watch if an applicant makes the first round of winnowing.