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Amazon adds $230 million in cloud credits to AI startups

Attendees walk through an expo hall at AWS re:Invent 2023, a conference hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS), in Las Vegas

By Krystal Hu

(Reuters) - Amazon said it is investing $230 million in the form of Amazon Web Service (AWS) credits in artificial intelligence startups, the latest example of cloud providers trying to capture AI clients from nascent stages.

The credits will provide early-stage generative AI startups free access to computing power, a variety of AI models, and infrastructure, if they build their companies on AWS.

Amazon says it already offers $1 billion in cloud credits every year to startups, with this new commitment focusing on supporting generative AI startups.

"They'll be able to iterate very quickly and pivot very quickly as necessary. Then ultimately, when they hit on that home run, they'll be able to double down and get to the scale with security, responsibility and consistency," said Matt Wood, vice president of AI Products at AWS.

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Part of the credits will also support 80 early-stage companies globally through the AWS Generative AI Accelerator program, the company said. Each startup admitted to the accelerator could receive up to $1 million in AWS credits.

It's common for cloud providers, from Microsoft Azure to Google Cloud, to offer credits to lure enterprises to use their services, as cloud costs can pile up for a company as their usage increases.

Earlier this year, Amazon has expanded its cloud credits to cover the use of models from providers such as Anthropic, Meta, Mistral AI, and Cohere, as the company aims to boost the market share of its AI platform.

AI demand has driven up the usage of cloud services, contributing to the accelerated growth of cloud providers. For instance, AWS's revenue rose by 17% to $9.42 billion in the first quarter, surpassing analyst expectations. The investment by tech giants in AI startups have also attracted attention from regulators over antitrust concerns.

Howard Wright, global head of Startups at AWS who managed startups relationships, recently left the company, according to people familiar with the move. Amazon declined to comment on the move.

(Reporting by Krystal Hu in New York; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)