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OpenAI today launched the OpenAI Startup Fund, a $100 million fund to, in the words of OpenAI, “help AI companies have a profound, positive impact on the world.” The fund is managed by OpenAI, with investment from Microsoft and other partners, and OpenAI says that companies selected for it will get early access to future OpenAI systems, support from OpenAI’s team, and credits on Microsoft Azure.

According to Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI and the former president of Y Combinator, the OpenAI Startup Fund will make “big, early bets” on a relatively small number of companies, likely no more than 10. It’ll look to partner with early-stage startups in fields where AI can have a “transformative” effect — like health care, climate change, and education — and where AI tools can empower people by helping them be more productive, like personal assistance and semantic search.

“We think that helping people be more productive with new tools is a big deal. And we can imagine brand new interferences that weren’t possible a year ago,” Altman said. “We’re really excited about the opportunity for startups, for the industry and for people everywhere who can put AI to work improving their lives.”

Microsoft partnership

The OpenAI Startup Fund further extends Microsoft’s collaboration with San Francisco, California-based OpenAI. Roughly a year ago, Microsoft announced it would invest $1 billion in OpenAI to jointly develop new technologies for Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and to “further extend” large-scale AI capabilities that “deliver on the promise” of artificial general intelligence. In exchange, OpenAI agreed to license some of its intellectual property to Microsoft, which the company would then package and sell to partners, and to train and run AI models on Azure as OpenAI worked to develop next-generation computing hardware.


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In the months that followed, OpenAI released a Microsoft Azure-powered API that allows developers to explore GPT-3’s capabilities. And toward the end of 2020, Microsoft announced that it would exclusively license GPT-3 to develop and deliver AI solutions for customers, as well as create new products that harness the power of natural language generation.

This week, Microsoft announced that it would “deeply integrate” GPT-3 with Power Apps, its low-code app development platform — specifically for formula generation. The AI-powered features will allow a user building an ecommerce app, for example, to describe a programming goal using conversational language like “find products where the name starts with ‘kids.'”

Beyond Microsoft, GPT-3 is now being used in more than 300 different apps by “tens of thousands” of developers and producing over 4.5 billion words per day, according to OpenAI. A startup called Viable is using GPT-3 to analyze customer feedback, identifying “themes, emotions, and sentiment from surveys, help desk tickets, live chat logs, reviews, and more”; Fable Studio is leveraging the model to create dialogue for VR experiences; and Algolia is using it to improve its web search products.

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