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Why OpenAI Is Funding AI Startups with $1 Million Equity Investments

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OpenAI just launched an ambitious program to fund game-changing AI companies.

The program, called Converge, is a “highly-selective, five-week program for exceptional engineers, designers, researchers, and product builders using AI to reimagine products and industries.”

Participants get $1 million in equity investment from OpenAI’s Startup Fund. They also get early access to OpenAI models, as well as workshops, office hours, and events with AI experts.

OpenAI says it's motivated by "the belief that powerful AI systems will spark a Cambrian explosion of new products, services, and applications.”

Why It Matters

In Episode 24 of the Marketing AI Show, Marketing AI Institute founder/CEO Paul Roetzer and I talked about what OpenAI’s fund means for entrepreneurs and industry disruptors.

  • This is a play to get entrepreneurs building on OpenAI models. “What they’re doing with this program is basically saying, ‘Come build on our platform, and we’ll fund you,’” says Roetzer. That presents opportunities like $1 million in funding and early access to advanced AI models.
  • But it carries risks. It's really hard to make decisions around which platform to build on, given how fast AI is advancing. Right now, you can build on GPT-3. “But what happens when GPT-4 comes out?” says Roetzer.“ Is my software company just not relevant all of a sudden, or am I going to have early access to evolve my product to be on top of GPT-4?”
  • And there are a lot of downsides if marketers get it wrong. “If you build your entire solution suite, marketing strategy, or agency around a GPT-3 powered tool, what’s to say that six months from now some company’s not going to come out of this program building on the next generation language technology with a better solution than what your whole workflow's built on now?”
  • Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. “These are hard decisions, not just if you're going to build software, but if you're going to use software someone else is building,” says Roetzer. There is no clear solution. Which is why it’s critical to stay on top of new developments in AI.
  • Yet with risk comes opportunity. Even though it’s hard to make the decision on how to build, the rewards for building right now are vast. “There isn't a thing we do that involves language, whether it's writing or editing, that isn't going to be changed completely,” says Roetzer. “So I think for entrepreneurs, it is a wide open space right now. There's so much opportunity to do this stuff, but it's going to move so quickly that speed is going to be critical.”
  • That goes for existing companies, too. Software companies must incorporate AI into their products fast, says Roetzer. “I don't know how a software company exists in three to five years that isn't AI-powered. I think every software company has to figure out AI real fast, or somebody else will.”

What to Do About It

Learn More About This Topic

You can hear the whole conversation about this topic and more cutting-edge AI news in Episode 24 of the Marketing AI Show, out now.

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