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  • Microsoft launches lightweight AI model

Microsoft launches lightweight AI model

Also: Perplexity is raising $250M+ at a $2.5B-$3B valuation for its AI search platform


In today's newsletter, we spotlight several key developments across the tech landscape, emphasizing AI's expanding influence. Microsoft has launched Phi-3-mini, a cost-effective AI model, as part of its initiative to democratize AI access. The International Olympic Committee is harnessing AI to enhance fairness and viewer engagement in upcoming games, starting with the Paris Olympics. Adobe plans to revolutionize the creative process in Photoshop with its new AI-driven tool, Firefly. Meanwhile, AI search engine startup Perplexity is targeting a substantial increase in valuation, aiming to integrate diverse AI models for enhanced search capabilities. Additionally, Coca-Cola's new $1.1 billion deal with Microsoft aims to utilize AI to transform its business operations, underlining the strategic integration of AI technologies in corporate and creative sectors.


  • 🆕 Microsoft launches lightweight AI model

  • 🏃‍♀️ Olympic organizers unveil strategy for using artificial intelligence in sports

  • 🖼️ Adobe to bring full AI image generation to Photoshop this year

  • 💰 Perplexity is raising $250M+ at a $2.5B-$3B valuation for its AI search platform, sources say

  • 💵 Coca-Cola signs $1.1 bln deal to use Microsoft cloud, AI services

Microsoft recently unveiled a new lightweight AI model, Phi-3-mini, designed to be significantly more cost-effective than its counterparts. This launch marks the company's initial offering from its upcoming series of small language models aimed at providing cost-efficient AI technologies. The Phi-3-mini, notable for being ten times cheaper than similar models, supports companies with smaller budgets, aiming to democratize access to powerful AI tools. The model is available on Microsoft's Azure AI model catalog, Hugging Face, and can also be used locally via Ollama. Additionally, it's optimized for use with Nvidia's graphics processing units through the Nvidia Inference Microservices. This strategic release follows Microsoft's substantial investment in the AI industry, including a recent $1.5 billion infusion into UAE-based AI firm G42, enhancing its commitment to advancing AI technologies globally.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has introduced a comprehensive strategy to integrate AI technologies in sports, reflecting its commitment to maintaining the innovation and relevance of the Olympic Games. This initiative aims to enhance various aspects of the games, from talent identification and customized training programs to refining fairness in competition through improved judging methods. The IOC is exploring AI's potential to offer a more personalized sports experience and ensure greater fairness and efficiency in the competitive environment. Moreover, the strategy extends to protecting athletes from online harassment and enriching the spectator experience by enhancing how sports are broadcasted, thus leveraging the lucrative revenue from broadcasting rights. The upcoming Paris Olympics will serve as a preliminary platform for implementing some of these AI solutions, with further developments expected to evolve the application of AI in sports significantly.

Adobe is set to integrate a comprehensive AI-driven image generation tool, named Firefly, into Photoshop by the end of this year, aiming to enhance its offerings amid rising competition from other tech companies and startups in the creative software space. The introduction of Firefly, a tool trained on legally cleared data, aims to mitigate potential copyright issues for users generating new images. Adobe’s innovation will allow users to input simple sketches, which Firefly can then transform into sophisticated, stylized images. This tool is expected to significantly speed up the creative process, enabling designers to quickly turn rough ideas into polished artworks without the need for detailed instructions or extensive manual editing.

Perplexity, an AI search engine startup, is experiencing a surge in valuation as it aims to raise over $250 million, targeting a valuation between $2.5 billion and $3 billion. This fundraising follows a trajectory of significant growth over recent months, including a nearly $74 million round in January and a $63 million round in March, which collectively boosted the company’s valuation from $121 million to $1 billion. The platform stands out by integrating a variety of large language models to offer more accurate and richer search responses through a chatbot-style interface. With its latest enterprise-grade product, Perplexity Enterprise Pro, the company is pioneering by offering a single solution incorporating major AI models like OpenAI GPT-4, Anthropic Claude Opus, and others.

Coca-Cola has committed to a significant $1.1 billion, five-year agreement with Microsoft to leverage its cloud computing and AI services, escalating its investment in technology to enhance business operations and customer interactions. This partnership will focus on exploring innovative applications of Azure OpenAI to develop chatbots and other AI-driven services, enhancing Coca-Cola's digital transformation. Additionally, Coca-Cola plans to implement Microsoft's AI-powered Copilot assistant, which assists with tasks like summarizing lengthy emails and creating business presentations, to streamline productivity across its operations. The deal also includes the expansion of Coca-Cola's use of other Microsoft technologies, such as Dynamics 365, which are critical tools for sales professionals and directly compete with services like Salesforce.

🛠️ AI tools updates

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is positioning itself as the leading platform for companies looking to host and fine-tune their custom generative AI models. Through its new feature, Custom Model Import, part of the Bedrock suite, AWS allows organizations to import their in-house AI models and manage them as fully integrated APIs. This initiative caters to the needs of enterprises that develop proprietary AI models, providing a robust infrastructure to enhance, refine, and safeguard these models against biases. The service not only supports a wide array of AI models from different developers but also integrates various workflows to streamline operations from development to deployment. AWS emphasizes security and customization, offering tools like Guardrails for filtering problematic outputs and Model Evaluation for performance testing, enhancing the appeal of Bedrock as a comprehensive solution for enterprise AI needs.

💵 Venture Capital updates

In early 2024, the startup funding environment displayed a cautious yet selective investment pattern, with global investments experiencing one of the lowest quarters since 2018 despite some recovery from the previous quarter. Notably, sectors such as AI, healthcare, electric vehicles, and green energy saw significant investments, with early-stage funding marking a 6% year-over-year increase at $29.5 billion. Andreessen Horowitz emerged as a leading investor, particularly active in these growing sectors. Cybersecurity investments remained resilient, buoyed by the need for robust security solutions amidst increasing cyber threats. While investment in Asia showed mixed results with a general decline but gains in specific Chinese tech startups, Latin America faced a sharp decrease in funding, contrasting with Europe's relatively stable investment landscape.

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