Startup News: Big tech could back Cohere and OpenAI, Flexport secures $200M to solve supply-chain problems

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.

About the Author

John Kimelman is a veteran journalist who has worked at Barron’s and CNBC covering such topics as investing and commercial banking. Mr. Kimelman has received compensation from Forge Global, Inc. for authoring this article. Read more from John.

Please Read These Important Legal Notices & Disclosures

The information and material presented in this article is provided for your informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer by Forge Global, Inc., Forge Securities LLC or any of its affiliates (collectively, "Forge") to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities and may not be used or relied upon in connection with any offer or sale of securities. An offer or solicitation can be made only through the delivery of final offering document(s) and purchase agreement and will be subject to the terms and conditions and risks delivered in such documents.

To the extent information about or defining specific terms is provided herein, Forge makes no representations as to its accuracy and has no duty to update such information. Such information is based on Forge’s experience and the meanings and connotations of terms as Forge typically uses and interprets them. Others may construe such terms differently, and you should do your own research and consult with financial, legal and tax professionals regarding any such concepts included herein.

This article does not constitute an offer to provide investment advice or service. Registered representatives of Forge Securities LLC do not (1) advise any member on the merits or prudence of a particular investment or transaction, or (2) assist in the determination of fair value of any security or investment, or (3) provide legal, tax, or transactional advisory services. Securities referenced in this article may be offered by Forge Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.

Forge Securities LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Forge Global, Inc. Certain affiliates may act as principals in such transactions. Forge Data LLC is an affiliate of Forge Global, Inc. and Forge Securities LLC.

Investing in private company securities is not suitable for all investors. An investment in private company securities is highly speculative, involving a high degree of risk, and investors should be prepared to withstand a total loss of your investment. Private company securities are also highly illiquid and there is no guarantee that a market will develop for such securities. Each investment also carries its own specific risks and investors should conduct their own, independent due diligence regarding the investment, including obtaining additional information about the company, opinions, financial projections and legal or investment advice. Accordingly, investing in private company securities is appropriate only for those investors who can tolerate a high degree of risk and do not require a liquid investment. Past performance Is not indicative of future results.