Alexa and Siri, the virtual assistants developed by Amazon and Apple, could soon have new friends. The competition in artificial intelligence is heating up among the beneficiaries of strategic investments from Big Tech.
Cohere, which creates natural language processing software used in AI applications, is in talks to receive a $200 million investment from Alphabet Inc.’s Google, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. Last November, Cohere announced a multiyear partnership with Google to have its cloud division supply computing power that Cohere needs.
Cohere also held discussions with chipmaker Nvidia Corp. about a potential strategic investment, the Journal reported. The talks between the companies are still ongoing and could fall apart, according to the Journal’s sources.
Investors could expect to see more of these investments and partnerships as large technology firms seek out AI know-how to modernize their software and technological systems as well as to achieve labor productivity benefits.
In keeping with this trend, the Journal also reported that privately-held OpenAI, an artificial intelligence company co-founded by Elon Musk, is in advanced talks for funding from Microsoft. OpenAI has created various AI programs and algorithms that allow computers to do things like create images from text or even make a robot hand that solves Rubik’s cubes. The company already uses Microsoft’s cloud service as its exclusive partner and has agreed to give priority to Microsoft when bringing technologies to market. Microsoft invested $1 billion in OpenAI in 2019.
Meanwhile, Stability AI, a company funding the development of open-source music and image-generating systems, announced that it raised $101 million in new funding from investors including Coatue Management and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
And Jasper, Inc., an artificial intelligence-powered content creation platform, announced that it has closed on a $125 million round of funding that brings its valuation to $1.5 billion. The Series A round was led by Insight Partners and included participation from Bessemer Venture Partners and several other VC firms.
Flexport Bucks the Supply-Chain Trend
In recent weeks, Flexport, the private supply-chain management and logistics company, announced that its trade financing arm, Flexport Capital, received $200 million from private-equity firm KKR & Co. to expand the company’s reach into the growing market for supply chain lending. The credit facility from KKR is Flexport Capital’s first outside funding since its inception in 2017.
Flexport’s star has risen at a time when private companies are in need of solutions for supply-chain problems since the pandemic. Flexport helps its customers by providing them with data-driven control over their inventories while they are in transit. The company topped this year’s CNBC Disruptor 50 list.