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Report: Softbank Considers Investing in Mistral AI

Mistral AI

Japan’s SoftBank is reportedly weighing an investment in French artificial intelligence (AI) startup Mistral AI.

The tech giant has shown interest in backing Mistral the next time it does fundraising, Bloomberg News reported Thursday (March 14), citing sources with knowledge of the matter. The sources said any deal could potentially value Mistral at north of $2 billion. 

PYMNTS has contacted both companies for comment but hasn’t received a reply.

As Bloomberg noted, Mistral — which was founded by Meta and Google veterans — has positioned itself as a European challenger to the U.S.’s dominance in the AI space.

The company was valued at around $2 billion in December of last year following a $415 million funding round. 

Last month, Microsoft said it was investing $16 million in Mistral, while also making the startup’s latest model available to users of its Azure cloud services. 

The partnership caught the notice of the European Commission, which said it would examine the Microsoft-Mistral deal as part of a wider investigation into partnerships between Big Tech and AI companies.

“What is emerging shows even more that it was good not to water down our ambition on the safety of [general purpose AI] models with systemic risks, following legitimate but strong lobbying from companies like Mistral,” said Brando Benifei, a member of the European Parliament who oversaw the drafting of the EU’s AI Act.

As for SoftBank, the company is led by Masayoshi Son, who last year projected that artificial general intelligence (AGI) — a computer system that can match human thought and reasoning — will become 10 times more powerful than all of humanity by the decade’s end. 

“Take advantage of it or be left behind,” Son said.

Meanwhile, PYMNTS wrote earlier this week about the rising popularity of AI small language models (SLMs), which includes Mistral 7b.

“One benefit of smaller LLMs is their efficiency. The increasing energy consumption of LLMs is raising concerns among experts and environmentalists,” that report said. “As these AI models become more advanced and widely used, the computational power needed to train and deploy them is leading to a substantial rise in electricity use, contributing to a growing carbon footprint for the industry.”

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