Microsoft Investing Billions to Deepen OpenAI Partnership
Microsoft will invest multiple billions of dollars into OpenAI to further its partnership with the generative AI startup, though it did not give a precise dollar amount. The new funding comes in the wake of the explosion of interest and adoption of OpenAI’s GPT-3 model, DALL-E text-to-image creator, and especially its conversational AI interface, ChatGPT. OpenAI said it would use the money to continue its development and deployment. That includes new and rumored integrations with its Office suite, Bing search engine, and Azure.
Microsoft first started working with OpenAI in 2019, then inked an exclusive deal to license GPT-3 in the fall of 2020 and invested a second time in 2021. The next step will see OpenAI’s models available for more commercial work, building on specialized supercomputing systems using OpenAI’s research. Microsoft Azure will maintain its role as OpenAI’s cloud provider.
“We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratize AI as a new technology platform,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. “In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organizations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models, and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications.”
OpenAI has been a growing part of many Microsoft projects since the companies started working together, like the low-code Power Apps programming tool. Meanwhile, Microsoft subsidiary GitHub experimented with OpenAI’s technology to produce the GitHub Copilot programming assistant. The tech giant has also underwritten the OpenAI Startup Fund, which has led investment rounds like a $5 million round for AI legal assistant developer Harvey and a $50 million round for video and audio editing software startup Descript. OpenAI is also using the fund for its $10 million Converge startup accelerator.
“The past three years of our partnership have been great,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said. “Microsoft shares our values and we are excited to continue our independent research and work toward creating advanced AI that benefits everyone.”