26 September 2023

Google, Microsoft invest in AI startups as battle for dominance heats up


In an escalating battle for market share in the AI sector, Google and Microsoft have made new strategic startup investments as they vie for dominance.

Google invests in Runway

The Information reported June 1 that Google had invested in Runway, an AI startup acclaimed for its text-to-video tool, as part of a $100 million funding round.

This investment has boosted Runway’s valuation to $1.5 billion and is anticipated to instigate a major transition from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to Google’s cloud servers.

Earlier this year, Google also poured $400 million into Anthropic, a rival of OpenAI, and signed agreements with Midjourney and Character AI, further solidifying its investment strategy.

Google’s robust backing of these AI startups, including Runway’s text-to-video tool, Midjourney’s text-to-image technology, and Character AI’s chatbot capabilities, underlines the tech giant’s intention to support and expand burgeoning AI technology.

Such strategic investments closely mirror the tech industry’s broader focus on AI, following on the heels of Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI.

Microsoft invests in CoreWeave

Microsoft has also been actively investing in the AI sector, with CNBC reporting a potentially multi-billion dollar deal with CoreWeave, a startup backed by Nvidia.

CoreWeave provides simplified access to Nvidia’s graphics processing units (GPUs), widely regarded as among the best on the market for running AI models. This agreement will bolster Microsoft’s efforts to meet the exponential demand for AI-powered services, simultaneously positioning itself in competition with Google.

This CoreWeave investment comes on the heels of the startup raising $200 million in funding and attaining a $2 billion valuation.

CoreWeave was founded in 2017 and has grown rapidly, with its revenue multiplying from 2022 to 2023. With the surge in generative AI demand, Microsoft’s acquisition of additional access to Nvidia’s GPUs through CoreWeave demonstrates a strategic response to the escalating AI rush.

Both Google’s and Microsoft’s strategies, while unique in their approach, share a common goal of harnessing AI’s transformative potential, bolstered by the market’s fervent enthusiasm for the technology.

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