is throwing the kitchen sink at artificial intelligence – and so are Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Apple.
For Microsoft, this is neither a fad nor a new vertical: the tech giant believes AI
has reached an inflection point and will soon become integral to every company’s business.
Bala Girisaballa, who took over as CEO of the Microsoft
accelerator in Bangalore four months ago, likens it to the start of the dotcom era. "Time was when dotcom was a strategy – a slap on to your business model, not an integral part. Today, it’s bizarre to ask if you’re a dotcom."
Bala thinks AI
will one day be just as ubiquitous. We will no longer have a category like AI
start-ups because every company will have AI.
theme manifests itself in multiple ways at Microsoft.
It’s building an open-source natural language processing platform called Luis.ai
that start-ups can plug into. And it recently got into an alliance with Google, Facebook, Amazon, and IBM
to create a range of open source AI
libraries and frameworks that start-ups can use.
More than half the start-ups in the latest batch of start-ups at Microsoft’s Bangalore accelerator are into AI
or data analytics. Bala believes the analytics start-ups will also adopt the self-learning AI
mode at some point.
Earlier this month, Microsoft
Ventures – the tech giant’s VC arm – also announced a new fund for AI
start-ups as well as investment in Element AI, an incubator in Montreal co-founded by deep learning pioneer Yoshua Bengio. It even funded an AI
butler in China – a rare investment by Microsoft
into a Chinese start-up.
This article was published on Tech In Asia. You can read it here.