Nvidia's Strategy to Foster AI Innovation: Throw Money at It
Chip giant Nvidia has just provided a cash infusion to France-based AI firm Mistral, helping push the startup to a $2 billion valuation, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
The news underscores a key reason for Nvidia's ascendance to the top of the AI chip mountain: winning favor with smaller companies by opening its considerable coffers to them.
Nvidia reported investing $872 million in outside companies by the end of its fiscal third quarter (compared to $83 million during the same period in 2022) spread across nearly three dozen companies, per Financial Times, citing Dealroom data. A good chunk of that windfall went to AI companies; Crunchbase estimates Nvidia has invested in 18 "AI and AI-related startups" to date this year.
This largesse has bolstered Nvidia's own technologies in addition to those of its beneficiaries, and cemented its place as one of the AI powerhouses to beat.
"[T]hese investments augment our R&D in the software, systems and semiconductors undergirding this ecosystem," Nvidia understated in a recent blog post describing, in broad strokes, its AI investment strategy.
Nvidia acknowledged that its investments have been fast and furious this year, to match "the pace of innovation in AI and accelerated computing." It has three main AI investment avenues:
- NVentures, Nvidia's in-house venture capital firm, gives money to companies that are "deeply relevant to NVIDIA," per the blog. "We aim to generate strong financial returns and expand the ecosystem by funding companies that use our platforms across a wide range of industries."
- The Inception accelerator "offers technology and marketing support," including access to potential investors, to promising startups.
- Nvidia's corporate investment arm aims to forge "strategic collaborations" that can "stimulate joint innovation, enhance the NVIDIA platform and expand the ecosystem."
Recipients of Nvidia's investments come from a wide swath of industries, from education to utilities to robotics to health care to manufacturing and more. Whatever the industry, however, Nvidia says it's prepared to provide technology, marketing, and corporate support.
"If you're working in AI and accelerated computing right now, NVIDIA stands ready to help," it said. "Developers across every industry in every country are building accelerated computing applications. And they're just getting going."