SoftBank Allocates $140M to Build Homegrown Generative AI via Newly Established Company
Softbank has launched a new company to develop Large Language Models (LLM) for the Japanese market.
The company will also develop, market and provide generative AI services scheduled to start operating later this year.
SoftBank is investing approximately 20 billion JPY (over $140 million ) in its generative AI computing platform.
The AI industry has a new entrant as Japan’s major tech investor SoftBank today announced that it has launched a new company to research and develop homegrown Large Language Models (LLM) for the Japanese market.
Named SB Intuitions Corp., the new company will also develop, market and provide generative AI services in the Japanese language. In its Q1 Fiscal Year 2023 earnings report, SoftBank President & CEO Junichi Miyakawa emphasized that the company views generative AI as “the most important technology for the future.”
In his earnings call presentation, Miyakawa unveiled the company’s upcoming AI initiatives, highlighting SoftBank’s advantageous position for generative AI development. He notes that the company boasts a wealth of engineers and an extensive reach spanning subscribers to SoftBank’s mobile services, along with LINE, Yahoo! JAPAN, and PayPay users as well as the largest computing platform in Japan.
To achieve its goal of building homegrown generative AI capabilities within Japan, SoftBank is allocating around 20 billion JPY (more than $140 million) into its generative AI computing platform, slated to launch in the fall of 2023. This platform, which will use NVIDIA’s DGX SuperPOD™ AI data center infrastructure, was also approved by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and is set to receive subsidies totaling JPY 5.3 billion (~$37.1 million).
Miyakawa further highlighted a strategic partnership with Microsoft aimed at delivering solutions rooted in Microsoft 365, Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft 365 Copilot, which leverages OpenAI’s GPT-4, to enterprise customers.
Illustrating SoftBank’s generative AI strategy, Miyakawa explained that the company will utilize multiple types of generative AI – including proprietary in-house solutions and those from external entities – to develop and offer bespoke solutions tailored to the unique demands of enterprise customers across a spectrum of sectors such as real estate, healthcare, retail, finance, logistics, and manufacturing.
“We want to provide optimal solutions for our customers, and we’ll utilize generative AI to boost Japan’s productivity,” Miyakawa said.
At SoftBank Corp.’s annual shareholder meeting in June, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son alluded to an impending AI revolution. He emphasized the company’s commitment to making early investments, even in the face of a $5.9 billion loss in Q4 2022.
This setback was a result of challenging outcomes from investments from its Vision Fund in technology and NFT startups, which have recently experienced a decline. The Vision Fund portfolio includes Candy Digital, Fanatics, Sorare, The Sandbox, and Zepeto, amongst others.
Masayoshi Son confidently stated, “SoftBank Group won’t be deterred by a few short-term losses. We will rule the world in the end.”
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