CEO Morning Brief

OpenAI Bids for Japan Business as It Opens Tokyo Office

Publish date: Tue, 16 Apr 2024, 11:02 PM
TheEdge CEO Morning Brief

TOKYO (April 15): Microsoft-backed artificial intelligence (AI) start-up OpenAI made a pitch for business in Japan on Monday, as it opened its first Asian office in Tokyo.

"This is just the first step in what I hope will be a long-term partnership with the people of Japan, government leaders, businesses and research institutions," OpenAI chief executive officer Sam Altman said in a video message.

The start-up, which has caused excitement among consumers since the launch of its ChatGPT generative AI chatbot in late 2022, is looking to grow new sources of revenue globally.

Altman and chief operating officer Brad Lightcap have hosted hundreds of Fortune 500 company executives in the US and Britain this month to pitch for business, Reuters has reported.

Last year, Altman said he was considering a Japan location after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The start-up has also opened offices in London and Dublin.

Japan hopes to take advantage of AI, as it looks to compete with an increasingly assertive China, accelerate the shift to digital services and alleviate deepening labour shortages.

"We have a backlog of demand," Lightcap told reporters in Tokyo, adding that "we expect a meaningful contribution from Japan over time", without providing details.

OpenAI said it had a custom model optimised for the Japanese language, and that Tadao Nagasaki, who was the president of Amazon Web Services in Japan, is heading the Japan business.

While the country is seen as a laggard in the technology, local companies including telecommunications companies SoftBank and NTT are investing in large language models.

OpenAI's customers in Japan include automaker Toyota Motor, manufacturer Daikin Industries, and local governments.

Microsoft said last week it would invest US$2.9 billion (RM13.86 billion) over two years in cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan, part of a wave of investment globally by US tech giants.

Source: TheEdge - 16 Apr 2024

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