Microsoft announces multibillion dollar investment in OpenAI days after mass layoffs

  • Last week Microsoft confirmed mass layoffs at several divisions within the company across the globe.
  • The decision was taken to cut costs amid concerns of a continued economic downturn.
  • That has not stopped Microsoft from announcing a multibillion investment into ChatGPT creator OpenAI.

Last week saw a number of big tech firms announce mass layoffs, including Microsoft, which let some 11 000 of its employees go in a move to better stabilise the company amid a worsening global economic downturn.

In a rather puzzling move, however, Microsoft has this week announced plans to invest further into ChatGPT creator OpenAI. We wrote about the fact that Microsoft was adding ChatGPT functionality to its Azure AI environment in a move to offer enterprise customers greater AI-enabled features earlier this month, also noting at the time that the company was looking to further invest in AI technologies, highlighting OpenAI in particular.

This latest investment, which is estimated at around $10 billion over multiple years, is not the first time that Microsoft has invested in OpenAI, having done so previously to the tune of $1 billion.

“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. 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,” noted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a blog post regarding the newly announced investment.

There is no mention of what a further investment in AI will mean for the current workforce at Microsoft, but it appears this deal was in the works long before mass layoffs were on the cards for the Nadella and co.

As for what the company aims to yield from this significant investment, Microsoft has outlined an increased supercomputing capability via its Azure AI platform, further building out its cloud infrastructure. Added to this is a desire to deploy more AI models, which will be an interesting development to monitor, especially given how divisive advancements in this field have proved to date.

Lastly, Microsoft will serve as the exclusive cloud provider to OpenAI, although it’s unclear what this will mean for other tech companies wanting to engage with OpenAI alone.

“Through our initial investment and collaboration, Microsoft and OpenAI pushed the frontier of cloud supercomputing technology, announcing our first top-5 supercomputer in 2020, and subsequently constructing multiple AI supercomputing systems at massive scale. OpenAI has used this infrastructure to train its breakthrough models, which are now deployed in Azure to power category-defining AI products like GitHub Copilot, DALL·E 2 and ChatGPT,” Microsoft highlighted.

“These innovations have captured imaginations and introduced large-scale AI as a powerful, general-purpose technology platform that we believe will create transformative impact at the magnitude of the personal computer, the internet, mobile devices and the cloud,” it concluded.


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