Science & Technology

SoftBank to Invest in AI Startup Perplexity

Vision Fund 2, part of the ownership structure of SoftBank Group Corp., invests in the startup Perplexity, which operates in the artificial intelligence industry.

SoftBank to Invest in AI Startup Perplexity

The valuation of the mentioned startup is $3 billion. Investing in this company is SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son’s latest bet on the artificial intelligence industry, which he deems crucial to securing his legacy.

The media, citing insiders who are aware of SoftBank’s intentions, reported that this business structure invests funds in the startup in the range of $10 million to $20 million. Perplexity plans to compete with Google’s Internet search system in the context of the development of its digital product based on artificial intelligence. The investment from SoftBank will be made as part of a larger $250 million funding round, which triples the startup’s valuation. Also in this case, Perplexity becomes one of the most highly valued companies among early-stage firms in the artificial intelligence industry.

The mentioned intentions are evidence that SoftBank is preparing to dramatically accelerate the pace of investment in the area of machine intelligence. Last week, Masayoshi Son spoke about his vision for the evolution of artificial intelligence. In his opinion, in the process of development, such a configuration of advanced technologies as artificial superintelligence will be formed. Masayoshi Son reckons that there will be a form of digital thinking that, in terms of cognitive abilities, will be thousands of times greater than the capabilities of the human mind. These statements of his were the most ambitious since SoftBank retreated from the market after several untimely bets on startups.

Masayoshi Son says that the structure he heads has done a lot, but it was only a preparation for the elaboration of artificial superintelligence. He made the corresponding statement last week at the annual meeting of shareholders.

Insiders referred to by the media draw attention to the fact that the deal on investing in Perplexity has not yet been completed, and its terms may change. The journalists’ informants used the right of anonymity, noting that the mentioned issue is being discussed in confidentiality mode.

Representatives for Perplexity and SoftBank did not respond to media requests for comment on the deal.

It is worth noting that there is already a business tie-up between the participants of the business agreement, which was reported by insiders. This year, the startup announced a partnership aimed at offering SoftBank’s Japanese wireless customers a free one-year subscription to its service. As part of this collaboration, Perplexity’s presence in one of Asia’s largest markets has been strengthened. The new deal will expand the scope of the startup’s partnership with SoftBank.

Currently, Perplexity offers consumers access to an artificial intelligence-based chatbot, which differs from other similar digital products by providing large amounts of information in real-time. The startup positions itself as a search engine for answers. The chatbot from Perplexity provides consumers with the results of processing their requests in text format instead of links.

SoftBank is expected to accelerate the pace of activity around artificial intelligence services in the foreseeable future. This year, this business structure has already invested in the AI startup Tempus, which specializes in the analysis of medical data. The partners are currently planning to set up a joint venture in Japan.

In February, the media reported that SoftBank has a plan to invest about $100 billion in chips designed for artificial intelligence systems. The corresponding project was named Izanagi. Last week, Masayoshi Son, during a conversation with shareholders, answering a question about the mentioned project, stated that he was focused on obtaining results and would work hard to achieve his goals, without specifying this wording.

Serhii Mikhailov

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Serhii’s track record of study and work spans six years at the Faculty of Philology and eight years in the media, during which he has developed a deep understanding of various aspects of the industry and honed his writing skills; his areas of expertise include fintech, payments, cryptocurrency, and financial services, and he is constantly keeping a close eye on the latest developments and innovations in these fields, as he believes that they will have a significant impact on the future direction of the economy as a whole.