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Generative AI 'FOMO' is driving tech heavyweights to invest billions of dollars in startups

Tech giants aren't doing much acquiring these days, due mostly to an unfavorable regulatory environment. But they're finding other ways to spend billions of dollars on the next big thing.

Amazon's $2.75 billion investment in artificial intelligence startup Anthropic, announced this week, was its largest venture deal and the latest example of the AI gold rush that's prompting the biggest tech companies to fling open their wallets.

Anthropic is the developer behind the AI model Claude, which competes with GPT from Microsoft-backed OpenAI, and Google's Gemini. Along with Meta and Apple, they're all racing to integrate generative AI into their vast portfolios of products and features to ensure they don't fall behind in a market that's predicted to top $1 billion in revenue within a decade.

In 2023, investors pumped $29.1 billion combined into nearly 700 generative AI deals, an increase of more than 260% in value from the prior year, according to PitchBook.

A significant chunk of that money was strategic, in that it came from tech companies rather than venture capitalists or other institutions. Fred Havemeyer, head of U.S. AI and software research at Macquarie, said a fear of missing out is one factor driving their decisions.

"They definitely don't want to miss out on being part of the AI ecosystem," Havemeyer said. "I definitely think that there's FOMO in this marketplace."

The hefty investments are necessary because AI models are notoriously expensive to build and train, requiring thousands of specialized chips that, to date, have largely come from Nvidia. Meta, which is developing its own model called Llama, has said it's spending billions on Nvidia's graphics processing units, one of the many companies that's helped the