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Big Tech is eating as much data as it can to win in AI — but it’s not ‘winner takes all,’ CEO says

Big technology companies are consuming as much data as possible to become winners in artificial intelligence — but that’s not necessarily what will define winners, according to the boss of software giant Appian.

Matt Calkins, co-founder and CEO of Appian, said that though internet giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Google are spending billions on the tech, ensuring success in AI is “not just about money.”

“AI is not a place where money makes more money,” Calkins told CNBC in an interview at its London bureau on Tuesday.

Calkins was referring to the high-profile deals companies like Microsoft and Amazon are agreeing with ambitious and fast-growing foundational AI model makers, like OpenAI and Anthropic.

Microsoft has invested a total of $13 billion in OpenAI, a deal that entails Microsoft getting a stake in OpenAI and the latter adding its GPT language models to the Redmond, Washington-based technology giant’s Azure cloud computing platform.

Microsoft has struck a similar deal with Mistral, taking a 15 million euro ($16 million) stake in the French AI firm. In OpenAI’s case, Microsoft has a nonvoting observer sitting on the firm’s board.

That happened after a shocking series of events last year that saw the CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman, temporarily ousted, before later returning after hundreds of OpenAI employees threatened a coup to join Altman at Microsoft.

Separately, Amazon has invested a whopping $4 billion into U.S. AI firm Anthropic, which is behind the Claude AI system. Amazon holds a minority stake in Anthropic but no board seat.

Google, too, has committed billions of funding to Anthropic, agreeing last year to invest up to $2 billion.

Scrutiny from UK regulators

British regulators are assessing whether deals agreed by Microsoft and Amazon with foundation AI model startups may constitute effective mergers that could lead to a substantial reduction of competition.

Microsoft denies its deals with OpenAI and Mistral and hiring from Inflection constituted mergers. Amazon says its partnership with Anthropic constitutes a limited corporate investment, not a merger.


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