OpenAI’s $100M startup fund will make ‘big early bets’ with Microsoft as partner



OpenAI is launching a $100 million startup fund, which it calls the OpenAI Startup Fund, though which it and its partners will invest in early-stage AI companies tackling major problems (and productivity). Among those partners and investors in the fund is Microsoft, at whose Build conference OpenAI founder Sam Altman announced the news.

In a prerecorded video, Altman explained that “this is not a typical corporate venture fund. We plan to make big early bets on a relatively small number of companies, probably not more than 10.”

It’s not clear exactly how the $100M will be divided or disbursed, or on what timeline, or whether this is part of a longer program. But it seems to be a limited fund, not just the 2021 round.

Altman did say that they will be looking for companies that are taking on serious issues, like healthcare, climate change, and education, where AI-powered applications or approaches could “benefit all of humanity,” in keeping with OpenAI’s mission statement. But it would also consider productivity improvements as well, presumably like the GPT-3 powered natural language coding Microsoft showed off yesterday.

“We know it’s you, the developers, who can use powerful tools like gpt3 to create ambitious applications that will leave a positive mark on the world,” said Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott in the company’s stream. “Microsoft is thrilled to be able to support this fund.”

Companies selected for funding will (Read more...)