The capped-profit AI research and deployment company, OpenAI, is launching a $100 million fund to invest in early-stage startups that use artificial intelligence to advance various industries. The fund, which includes Microsoft as one of its investors, will be directly managed by OpenAI. Founder Sam Altman has announced that the number of companies they invest in will likely not exceed 10. The focus will be on startups working in industries where AI can have a transformative effect - like climate change, education, and healthcare. The application process will require startups to submit a one-minute video. Once passed the application, the funding recipients will receive early access to new OpenAI systems and Microsoft Azure resources.

Zoom In: OpenAI started as a non-profit organization dedicated to democratizing access to AI, which meant everyone and not just big tech. However, the path following the initial start feels somewhat mixed. Two years ago, the organization shifted to a ‘capped-profit’ structure to attract more capital. About a year ago, Microsoft announced it would invest $1 billion in OpenAI to jointly develop new technologies for Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and to “further extend large-scale AI capabilities that deliver on the promise of artificial intelligence.” In return, OpenAI agreed to license some of its IP to Microsoft, which the company would then package and sell to partners. The announcement of the fund is the next step in their collaboration, and we cannot help but wonder if OpenAI is doing what it sought to prevent in the first place.

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