Google has invested about $300 million (£249m) in artificial intelligence start-up Anthropic, according to multiple reports, as investment in the sector heats up following the runaway success of Microsoft-backed OpenAI and its ChatGPT generative text tool.

The deal is the latest example of a large tech company forming close ties with a start-up in the so-called “generative AI” sector.

Companies in the field require access to large amounts of cloud computing power to carry out their data-intensive work, and Microsoft’s OpenAI deal began with a $1bn cloud services agreement in 2019.

That initial deal led to Microsoft’s much bigger $10bn investment into OpenAI announced late last month.

Cloud backing

Google’s arrangement with Anthropic similarly includes a large cloud services contract, with this component being announced publicly by the two companies on Friday.

“Google Cloud is providing open infrastructure for the next generation of AI startups, and our partnership with Anthropic is a great example of how we’re helping users and businesses tap into the power of reliable and responsible AI,” said Google Cloud chief executive Thomas Kurian in a statement.

Founded in 2021 by former OpenAI executives, including siblings Daniela and Dario Amodei, Anthropic in January released a limited test of a chatbot named Claude that offers features similar to ChatGPT.

The tool hasn’t yet been released to the public, but Anthropic said this would follow “in the coming months”.

Cohere competition

The Google investment doesn’t require Anthropic to use the funds to buy services from Google, Bloomberg reported.

Separately, another OpenAI competitor named Cohere is reportedly in talks to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in a funding round that could value it at more than $6bn, Reuters reported.

Toronto-based Cohere is another firm with close ties to Google, having been founded in 2019 by former Google researchers.

Cohere plans to introduce a dialogue model resembling ChatGPT for use by enterprises, which would be able to engage with the model to refine the output.

Cohere plans to tailor its technology mainly to developers and businesses, said chief executive Aidan Gomez, unlike ChatGPT which is available to the public.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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