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Tech Titans, Startups Bet Big Bucks on AI’s Future

AI, investments, funding, technology

Tech giants and startups are investing billions in AI infrastructure, training and development, with Microsoft planning a $3.3 billion AI data center in Wisconsin, startup Atlan raising $105 million for its AI-ready data stack, and Mistral AI seeking funds at a $6 billion valuation for open-source language models, underscoring the high stakes in the race to harness AI’s transformative potential and reshape industries.

Microsoft Invests $3.3 Billion in Wisconsin AI Data Center

Microsoft has announced a $3.3 billion investment to establish a data hub in Wisconsin designed to educate employees and manufacturers on optimizing AI use. 

The company said the tech giant plans to generate 2,300 union construction jobs and 2,000 permanent positions through its new center. The center will also train approximately 100,000 workers in Wisconsin on generative AI by 2030, collaborating with United Way Wisconsin, United Way Racine and other local partners. Additionally, Microsoft intends to establish a lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to assist companies and manufacturers in integrating AI into their operations.

“Wisconsin has a rich and storied legacy of innovation and ingenuity in manufacturing,” Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft, said in a news release. “We will use the power of AI to help advance the next generation of manufacturing companies, skills and jobs in Wisconsin and across the country. This is what a big company can do to build a strong foundation for every medium, small and start-up company and non-profit everywhere.”

The new center is part of a growing wave of large-scale investments in AI infrastructure and training. 

“Assuming the infrastructure gets built, companies would have access to more advanced AI capabilities,” tech analyst Vaclav Vincalek told PYMNTS. “For example, more sophisticated machine learning algorithms can help analyze larger and larger datasets in shorter time frames. Or improved natural language processing to actually better serve customers with AI.” 

Microsoft is trying to stay ahead in the AI race, Vincalek noted. 

“It seems to release ‘major’ AI announcements every week and most are just news fodder,” he added. “$3.3 billion isn’t a small sum, but right now it’s just a number. Same thing when Google announced its billions in AI investments two weeks ago. The large corporations want to be seen as the AI company, but I wouldn’t be banking on any one company right now until we see tangible results that positively impact business operations.”

AI Data Startup Raises $105 Million

Atlan, an AI startup, has raised $105 million in a funding round led by Singapore’s GIC and tech investor Meritech Capital. This latest investment boosts Atlan’s valuation to $750 million.

The company, which has now amassed over $206 million in total funding, provides a data stack that consolidates various data sources into a unified interface. This technology supports the growing demand for AI chips and learning tools.

“Over the past year, boards have consistently asked their CIOs and CDOs about their AI roadmaps, who have realized that the main hurdle isn’t AI models but the lack of AI-ready data — data enriched with business context, trust and security,” said Prukalpa Sankar, co-founder of Atlan, in a news release. “Atlan is addressing this by building the control plane for the data and AI stack, integrating trust and context into the digital fabric.”

As PYMNTS previously reported, Big Tech companies are rapidly developing specialized chips that enhance the efficiency and reduce the costs of AI. Experts believe that Nvidia’s new B200 GPU, which has 20 petaflops of FP4 processing power and 208 billion transistors, could revolutionize the commerce industry by speeding up AI applications. Meta’s newly upgraded custom AI chips, which enhance performance for ranking and recommendation models on Facebook and Instagram, were unveiled in a recent company blog post.

Mistral Aims for $6 Billion Valuation

Paris-based Mistral AI, a startup developing open source large language models crucial for generative AI services, is reportedly raising funds at a $6 billion valuation — triple its December valuation. 

Sources told TechCrunch that DST and prior backers General Catalyst and Lightspeed Venture Partners are keen to invest in this round. General Catalyst and Lightspeed, which are returning investors, were mentioned earlier today in a report by the Wall Street Journal

The funding round is expected to be close to, but under, $600 million. PYMNTS reported last month that Mistral AI was looking into a funding round that would value it at $5 billion.

Founded in April 2023 by former Meta Platforms and Google DeepMind employees, Mistral AI achieved a valuation of over $2 billion by December.