Microsoft to invest $1 bn in OpenAI as part of Azure cloud deal

Software major Microsoft announced it will be investing $1 billion in San Francisco-based OpenAI as part of its Azure cloud deal.
Microsoft and OpenAI
OpenAI and Microsoft also formed a multi-year partnership to develop artificial intelligence supercomputing technologies on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service.

OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a nonprofit with $1 billion in funding from Silicon Valley investors Sam Altman, Peter Thiel and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, among others. Earlier this year, the group created a related for-profit entity to take in outside investment.

OpenAI has employed artificial intelligence researchers to make advances in the field, such as teaching a robotic hand to perform human-like tasks entirely in software, cutting down the cost and time to train robots.

“We believe it’s crucial that AGI is deployed safely and securely and that its economic benefits are widely distributed,” Altman said in a statement. “We are excited about how deeply Microsoft shares this vision.”

Microsoft said the two companies would jointly build new AI technologies on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service. The two also said that OpenAI would move many of its services to Azure and that Microsoft would be its “preferred” partner to commercialize new services.

The two firms declined to say whether Microsoft’s investment would be made in cash, or whether it would involve credits for the Azure cloud computing service.

Cloud computing services are a major cost for OpenAI, which spent $7.9 million on cloud computing in the 2017 tax year, or about a quarter of its total functional expenses for that year, according to filings with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

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