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German enterprise software giant SAP is putting skin into the AI game.

The company today announced it has directly invested in three AI startups: Cohere, Anthropic (maker of the Claude 2 LLM service) and Aleph Alpha.

While the company did not specify dollar amounts, a spokesperson told VentureBeat that the investments “are a signal of SAP’s commitment to offering valuable generative AI scenarios built into our portfolio of business applications, which are used every day by the world’s leading
brands. As we continue to innovate, we are committed to using the best, responsible AI technology and tools in the market.”

The news follows a more precise dollar investment from SAP-backed Sapphire Ventures, which announced a staggering $1 billion commitment to gen AI startups last week.


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Why SAP needs to be a leader in enterprise AI

SAP is the third largest software company in the world in terms of annual revenue, behind only Microsoft and Oracle, and the largest outside of the U.S. Its enterprise resource planning (ERP) software — the stack that knits together a company’s supply chain and operational applications — is used by such notable brands as oil megacorp ExxonMobil and drug maker Novartis. One of its more recognizable apps is the travel and business expense filing software Concur.

SAP says it already has 26,000 customers around the world using its existing SAP Business AI, which predated the investment announcement, showing the appetite for these types of services.

As such, applying generative AI to it could have a tremendous impact for businesses and their customers around the globe. In fact, while VentureBeat does not offer investment advice, Bank of America analyst Frederic Boulan named SAP one of the top 10 stocks to invest in for generative AI gains, citing the fact that “huge quantities of data about a company’s operations are held within a company’s ERP system which makes the software vital in any generative AI integration.”

In other words: SAP already has a treasure trove of data from all of its many global customers, and should it decide to offer gen AI services to those customers in conjunction with or through existing SAP offerings, it stands to reason that SAP could make a huge impact on both the customer side and its own bottom line.

SAP customers begin AI pilots ‘immediately’

“Pilots and proof of concepts (PoCs) are underway with customers, so any customer who is interested can get started immediately with SAP,” SAP’s spokesperson told VentureBeat in an emailed statement.

As for why SAP chose these three gen AI startups to invest in over any others: “All three companies — Aleph Alpha (Germany), Anthropic (U.S.) and Cohere (Canada) are each recognized for industry leadership, innovation, and a unique vision for advancing AI and the potential to transform industries. And with our overarching approach to foster an open ecosystem of Business AI, we believe that SAP should give customers choice and are proud to invest in each of them.”

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