Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is diversifying its tech portfolio by committing up to $4 billion in funding to Anthropic, a generative AI firm that competes with OpenAI’s ChatGPT. While Amazon has long employed AI for various applications, this significant investment marks a notable expansion into the AI domain.
Amazon Ventures into AI with Anthropic Investment
Amazon’s substantial investment in privately held Anthropic, along with the possibility of taking a minority ownership stake, reflects the company’s deeper foray into AI. Amazon now joins tech giants like Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) in backing Anthropic.
This move signifies Amazon’s intention to tap into the advancements in generative AI technology and integrate it into its broader tech ecosystem. While Amazon has been utilizing AI for tasks like personalized recommendations, transcription, and data analysis, the investment in Anthropic demonstrates a more dedicated commitment to AI development.
Notable Backers of Anthropic
Amazon’s investment in Anthropic follows a series of substantial contributions from other tech companies. In February 2023, Alphabet invested $300 million in Anthropic, acquiring a 10% ownership stake. Salesforce Inc. (NYSE:CRM) also backed Anthropic with a $250 million investment in March. SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) joined the list with an investment in July, and South Korean wireless carrier SK Telecom Co. Ltd. (NYSE:SKM) contributed $100 million in August.
Anthropic, founded by former OpenAI employees, has developed a generative language AI model named Claude, which directly competes with OpenAI’s ChatGPT. This competitive landscape has led to a surge in investments in AI startups like Anthropic. In April, Google inked a deal to invest $75 million in Runway, a company capable of generating videos from text input.
Microsoft, an early supporter of ChatGPT’s parent company, OpenAI, has invested a staggering $13 billion since 2019, emphasizing the growing significance of AI in the tech sector.
Tech Industry’s AI Investments and Challenges
The tech industry has witnessed substantial investments in AI technology, propelling large-cap tech stocks to significant gains. However, while investment in AI is expected to continue, the enthusiasm surrounding AI has waned recently. The Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEARCA:XLK) declined 2.09% in the past month, partially due to the Federal Reserve’s signal of continued interest rate hikes.
In the context of the Anthropic deal, Amazon also highlighted that Anthropic would leverage Amazon’s AWS as its primary cloud provider. Anthropic plans to train and deploy its future foundation models on AWS Trainium and Inferentia chips. Amazon’s development of these chips as alternatives to Nvidia products signals a dynamic AI landscape with tech companies seeking efficient and cost-effective hardware solutions.
Amazon remains committed to using Nvidia chips in its AI stack, with Trainium and Inferentia chips deployed in a different capacity.
Anthropic’s Role in Amazon’s Future
Amazon’s investment in Anthropic aligns with its vision to enhance its existing applications and develop new ones. Amazon’s developers and engineers will incorporate generative AI capabilities from Anthropic models into various applications. These capabilities are not only geared towards existing solutions but will also contribute to the development of new applications.
One such initiative is Amazon Bedrock, a managed service under AWS that assists businesses in building, training, and deploying machine-learning models. Customers utilizing Anthropic’s current models through Amazon Bedrock are already building generative AI-powered applications for diverse use cases, such as market forecasting, research reports, drug discovery, and educational programs.
Notable customers using Anthropics software include travel media company Lonely Planet, hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, and database specialist LexisNexis Legal & Professional.
Amazon’s shares rose after the Anthropic announcement, reflecting the company’s strategic investment in AI. While the initial enthusiasm over chatbots may have faded, Amazon’s commitment to Bedrock, coupled with Anthropic’s broad appeal to tech companies, indicates that AI continues to hold a promising future with applications extending beyond academic assistance.