Microsoft has made an undisclosed investment into London-based startup Builder.ai, which allows users to create and manage apps without any coding experience. This investment is part of Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to expand its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. Through a strategic partnership, Microsoft plans to integrate Builder.ai’s AI assistant, Natasha, into its Teams video and chat software. This will allow users to build business apps within the platform. Builder.ai will also use Microsoft’s AI algorithms to enhance Natasha’s abilities and make it sound more human.
The partnership also gives Builder.ai access to Microsoft’s Azure suite of cloud tools, including a set of AI services offered through a tie-up with US-based startup OpenAI. Microsoft’s Azure developers will also be able to tap into Builder.ai’s network of experts. Builder.ai and its clients will also benefit from Microsoft’s no-code app development tools, which Microsoft hopes will help advance its expertise in this area.
The deal represents a further push by Microsoft into the AI space, a key focus for the company as it looks to become a leader in the technology and compete more aggressively with Google. Microsoft has made massive investments in AI lately, including plowing a reported $13 billion into OpenAI and incorporating the firm’s AI language processing software into its Bing search engine and Office productivity apps.
Builder.ai has raised a total of $195 million in funding to date and is one of many startups that have benefited from renewed investor interest in AI technology. However, some researchers have expressed concerns that AI is getting too powerful, leading to a group of tech heavyweights, including Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, calling for a six-month moratorium on the development of AI more powerful than GPT-4, OpenAI’s latest large language model. The investment by Microsoft in Builder.ai is seen as an endorsement of the startup’s capabilities, giving it leverage in its go-to-market strategy.