(Bloomberg) -- Neo, the startup accelerator founded by Silicon Valley investor Ali Partovi, is forging a partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft Corp. to give free software and advice to companies in a new track focused on artificial intelligence.
Companies accepted to Neo’s AI cohort will receive credits to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud as well as OpenAI’s GPT language generation tool, Dall-E image creation program and other tools, the companies announced Tuesday. The startups also will get access to researchers and mentors at Microsoft and OpenAI.
Since OpenAI released its ChatGPT chatbot in November, as well as its latest language model — GPT-4 — last week, interest has soared among startups and established companies seeking to build the technologies into their own products. Microsoft, which recently boosted its investment in OpenAI by a reported $10 billion, is widely testing a new Bing search engine that uses GPT-4 and is overhauling its Office software. On Tuesday, Alphabet Inc.’s Google granted the public access to its ChatGPT competitor, the conversational AI service it calls Bard. Startups working in generative artificial intelligence — so called because the tools are used to create new content — saw funding hit $2.65 billion in 2022, a 71% increase from the prior year, according to CB Insights.
Partovi, Neo’s chief executive officer, was an early investor in companies including Facebook and Dropbox Inc., and in 1998 sold his startup LinkExchange to Microsoft, where he got his first taste of the technology industry as an intern in the early years of Windows. Partovi sees these new AI tools as having similar importance as the jumping-off point for other applications and companies.
“As impressive as these innovations are, their greatest potential lies in how they’ll enable the next generation of startups — the things that other people will build on top of them that we haven’t seen yet,” he said.
Read more: The Tech Behind Those Amazing, Flawed New Chatbots
Neo, which is also a venture firm, has invested 46% of its capital to back CEOs who are women or members of underrepresented groups, Partovi said. That focus on diverse companies and founders will be critical for the development of AI.
“This is not just about an industry or about money — it’s about in many ways the future of humanity, and including diverse voices in that conversation is necessary for getting it right,” he said.
Partovi expects about 10 or 12 AI startups among the 20 companies that Neo will accept for the new track of its accelerator program.
One of them is run by Justin Fineberg, a co-founder who’s built a 250,000-person following on social media by talking about how businesses can use AI. Fineberg’s company, which is about a month old, is called CassidyAI. It’s working on software tools that let customers build AI assistants for their specific company without having to know how to write programming code.
“When you’re an early stage startup in the AI space and you’re able to work directly with the biggest names — Microsoft and OpenAI — that really gives you a pretty competitive advantage,” Fineberg said.
(Updates to include mention of Google rival Bard in third paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected the tools available.)
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