Google in talks to invest $200 million into AI startup

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is in talks to invest at least $200 million in artificial intelligence startup Cohere Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, another sign of an escalating arms race among big corporations technology companies in the sector.

Founded in 2019, Cohere creates natural language processing software that developers can then use to build artificial intelligence applications for businesses, including tools for chatbots and other features that can understand speech and speech. human text. Last November, the company announced a multi-year partnership with Google for its cloud division to provide the computing power Cohere needs to train its software models.

As part of the negotiations, Cohere also held talks with chipmaker Nvidia Corp. on a potential strategic investment, the sources said. Talks between the companies are still ongoing and could collapse, some people said.

Cohere’s assessment from any potential new funding could not be learned.

Google and Nvidia declined to comment. Toronto-based Cohere did not respond to requests for comment.

Other tech giants are also looking to bet more on artificial intelligence. Microsoft Corp. is in advanced talks for a new round of funding in OpenAI, another startup rushing to create software models to achieve artificial general intelligence, or the ability for a machine to understand anything a human can, in a few years.

OpenAI already uses Azure, Microsoft’s cloud service, as an exclusive partner and has agreed to prioritize Microsoft when bringing technologies to market. Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI in 2019.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has emphasized the importance of AI to the company since taking office in 2015. Alphabet bought AI research company DeepMind in 2014. Google’s research division , Google Brain, is also one of the most followed publishers on major language models and other AI topics.

Cohere CEO Aidan Gomez was previously an intern at Google Brain and worked on a paper advancing the widely cited Transformer AI model.

Some researchers have warned that new AI models can pose thorny ethical questions and contribute to unwarranted hype in the sector.

The new funding would add to a flurry of investment activity for AI startups in what has otherwise been a slow market for new deals. Cohere raised $125 million in a new funding round led by investment firm Tiger Global Management in February, bringing its total funding at the time to more than $170 million.

On Monday, artificial intelligence firm Stability AI said it raised $101 million in new funding from investors including Coatue Management and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company held a launch party in San Francisco the same day, where Google co-founder Sergey Brin was in attendance.

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