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Tech News: Microsoft Strikes AI Deal with an OpenAI Rival

BARCELONA—This week, many technology companies are making announcements at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the world’s largest mobile and communications trade show. Barron’s will report on all the major news from the event, as well as what’s happening in tech elsewhere. 

Microsoft
’s

investment in artificial-intelligence start-up OpenAI has been a stunning success so far. That isn’t stopping the technology giant from playing the field when it comes to AI partnerships. 

Microsoft
’s

latest dalliance is with French company Mistral AI. Microsoft said that it is adding Mistral’s new model as an option for developers on its Azure cloud service, in an announcement Monday, in a deal which also includes taking a small stake in the start-up. 

“We believe this Mistral partnership could help address AI use-cases in a margin-conscious manner while larger, more expensive OpenAI models could be used for general reasoning and complex tasks,” wrote Macquarie analyst Frederick Havemeyer in a research note on Tuesday. 

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It’s worth noting that Mistral isn’t the only alternative to OpenAI’s models which Microsoft offers. Last year it added an open-source model from

Meta Platforms

to Azure, alongside various others. However, backing Europe’s most prominent AI start-up should give Microsoft some cover against European regulators’ scrutiny over its deal with OpenAI and relieve concerns about overdependence on the ChatGPT developer. 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said when OpenAI chief Sam Altman was briefly ousted from his role that he didn’t intend to let the company “get surprised like this ever again”—having multiple AI partners is one way to avoid nasty surprises.  

Salesforce Makes New AI Assistant Publicly Available

Salesforce

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said Tuesday that it has launched its Einstein Copilot, a new all-purpose AI assistant for the company’s customer-relationship-management software, for public use.

Salesforce

said Einstein was available to customers in public beta—or testing mode—by purchasing Einstein 1 Editions of its software or by adding it on to Enterprise or Unlimited Editions.

AI is the single most important moment in the history of our industry. It will deepen customer relationships, increase productivity and drive higher margins at every company,” said Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, in a statement.

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The AI launch means Salesforce is going head-to-head with Microsoft, as the bigger tech player has also targeted its AI tools at companies for customer-relationship management.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff tried to poach OpenAI staff amid the Altman chaos last year. It’ll be interesting to see how its in-house AI measures up.

The Craziest Concept at MWC Is Motorola’s Rollable Phone 

Mobile World Congress is a place to show off flashy concept devices, some with a questionable chance of ever reaching the market.

Motorola

—owned by China’s

Lenovo

—looks to have won the prize this year with a phone so flexible it can wrap around your wrist. 

The Rollable Concept Phone takes the idea of a foldable phone to the extreme. A demonstration showed its fabric backing allows the device to bend practically in two, while the touch screen appeared to continue working fine. A magnetic band allows it to snap on like a watch. 

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There wasn’t a chance to try it on, so there are questions as to how well it might stand up to everyday use. There was no suggestion when it might hit the commercial market, but it certainly caught the eye.

Write to Adam Clark at adam.clark@barrons.com

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Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama, a lifelong enthusiast of Artificial Intelligence, has been exploring technology and the digital realm since childhood. Known for his creative thinking, he's dedicated to improving AI experiences for all, making him a respected figure in the field. His passion, curiosity, and creativity drive advancements in the AI world.
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