By Tom Warren, a senior editor covering Microsoft, PC gaming, console, and tech. He founded WinRumors, a site dedicated to Microsoft news, before joining The Verge in 2012.
Microsoft says it’s extending its long-term partnership with OpenAI through a new “multiyear, multibillion dollar investment.” The investment comes just weeks after Microsoft was rumored to be investing $10 billion into OpenAI, the creators of popular AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E 2.
“We formed our partnership with OpenAI around a shared ambition to responsibly advance cutting-edge AI research and democratize AI as a new technology platform,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “In this next phase of our partnership, developers and organizations across industries will have access to the best AI infrastructure, models, and toolchain with Azure to build and run their applications.”
The deal will see Microsoft increase its investments in the development and deployment of supercomputing systems to assist OpenAI’s research. The key part of the deal means that Microsoft is the exclusive cloud partner for OpenAI, and Microsoft’s cloud services will power all OpenAI workloads across products, API services, and research.
Microsoft is also planning to deploy OpenAI’s models across a variety of consumer and enterprise products. Microsoft is rumored to be preparing to challenge Google with ChatGPT integration into Bing search results, and the company is reportedly looking at integrating some language AI technology into its Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook apps.
Microsoft isn’t disclosing exactly how much it has invested in OpenAI, but the company has been looking to use its close relationship to further commercialize its Azure OpenAI service. Microsoft started rolling out this service last week, and it includes a number of AI models made by OpenAI including GPT-3.5, Codex, and DALL-E. It’s designed for businesses to make use of OpenAI’s models by essentially packaging up GPT-3.5 with the scaling you’d expect from Azure and management and data handling additions.
Rumors of this deal suggested Microsoft may receive 75 percent of OpenAI’s profits until it secures its investment return and a 49 percent stake in the company. OpenAI says it remains a capped-profit company after this deal, allowing it to continue to raise capital with checks and balances in place.
“The past three years of our partnership have been great,” says OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. “Microsoft shares our values and we are excited to continue our independent research and work toward creating advanced AI that benefits everyone.”
Microsoft purchased an exclusive license to the underlying technology behind GPT-3 in 2020 after investing $1 billion in OpenAI in 2019. It has built a close relationship with OpenAI and is also planning to add an AI text-to-image model to Bing powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E 2.
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