Amazon invests $230m in AI start-ups

Amazon is upping its ante in the artificial intelligence (AI) race, announcing a $230 million investment in the form of Amazon Web Services (AWS) credits for early-stage generative AI start-ups.

This initiative grants start-ups free access to computing power, AI models, and AWS infrastructure, fostering rapid iteration and development.

Amazon already offers $1 billion annually in cloud credits to start-ups, with this new focus specifically targeting generative AI companies.

AWS generative AI accelerator:

  • A portion of the credits will support 80 early-stage companies globally through the newly launched AWS Generative AI Accelerator programme.
  • Each selected start-up can receive up to $1 million in AWS credits, fuelling their growth within the AWS ecosystem.

Offering free credits is a common strategy for cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud to attract businesses and lock them into their platforms as their usage scales.

Earlier this year, Amazon expanded its offering to include credits for using models from external providers like Anthropic, Meta, Mistral AI, and Cohere, further bolstering its AI platform’s appeal.

The growing demand for AI has fuelled the skyrocketing usage of cloud services, significantly contributing to the rapid expansion of cloud providers like AWS. For example, AWS’s revenue surged by 17 per cent to a whopping $9.42 billion in Q1.

The substantial investments by tech giants in AI start-ups have drawn the attention of regulators due to potential antitrust concerns.

In a recent shake-up, Howard Wright, the global head of start-ups at AWS who managed start-up relationships, has reportedly left the company. Amazon has not commented on this development.

This move by Amazon highlights a critical trend: the tight coupling between cloud computing and the booming AI industry. As both sectors continue to evolve, the competition for dominance will likely intensify.

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