In November 2022, OpenAI announced a startup fund called Converge that awarded participants a $1 million equity investment—and revealed where it puts its money.
- Last year, OpenAI announced Converge, the company’s startup fund for artificial-intelligence (AI) related companies.
- “To help usher in this new era, we’re launching a program to accelerate founders as they build transformative companies powered by AI,” the company says.
- In its press release, OpenAI called converge a “highly selective, five-week program for exceptional engineers, designers, researchers, and product builders using AI to reimagine products and industries.”
- In December, OpenAI announced the four startups selected for the program: Descript, Harvey, Mem, and Speak.
- In addition to the Converge winners, the AI company has announced multiple investments in other startup companies.
Why it’s news
In 2015, some of Silicon Valley’s most notable players, like Elon Musk and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, invested in OpenAI. The collected investment was nearly $1 billion, Insider reports.
Now, that investment is starting to pay off with the success of AI chatbot ChatGPT and AI image-generator DALL-E. OpenAI may have pioneered breakthroughs in AI technology, but the practical applications may come from startups that OpenAI is investing in.
“We want to help push the boundaries of what powerful AI models can do and support really ambitious projects aimed at solving complex problems of the highest order,” OpenAI cofounder and CEO Sam Altman says.
Taking a closer look
Descript, Harvey, Mem, and Speak were chosen as OpenAI’s Converge program participants. The startups all have different goals but rely on AI technology for their function.
Video editing AI tool Descript makes video editing as simple as editing a text document. Descript recently released Storyboard, a new tool that makes video editing as simple as putting together a slideshow.
Harvey is an AI intended to assist lawyers by automating tedious tasks. Things like research, drafting, and analysis could soon be the job of AI—freeing up lawyers to focus on more complex work. The program is still in the beta phase.
While Harvey applies to a specific industry, Meme is more broadly applied. Mem is an organizational tool that can predict what information should be provided to the user at a given time.
OpenAI explains, “Mem uses advanced AI to organize, make sense of, and predict which information will be most relevant to a user at any given moment or in any given context. Mem’s mission is to build products that inspire humans to create more, think better, and spend less time searching and organizing.”
The AI startup Speak is trying to build a tool to help its users become fluent in different languages. The company is trying out English teaching tools first. The AI tutor was initially launched in East Asia and has around 100,000 subscribers. The tool can give users real-time grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation feedback.
OpenAI’s investments go beyond Converge participants. Atomic Semi and EdgeDB are two other startups OpenAI is looking to support.
Atomic Semi was reportedly in the advanced stages of negotiations with Open AI, TechCrunch reports. Atomic semi is a semiconductor manufacturing startup looking to make chip manufacturing more simple and affordable.
Open-source database EdgeDB announced in November a $15 million Series A investment. Investors included OpenAI, Vercel, ICONIQ, Netfly, IBM, Firebase, and GitHub. The round of funding will support the development of EdgeDB Cloud.