min read

AI Startups in the Era of Big Tech: Fostering Mutually Beneficial Partnerships and Innovation

AI startups fuel innovation and fill unique market gaps. Synergistic relationships with big tech provide pivotal backing for startups while tech tycoons remain leaders.

From startups to big tech companies, AI is making headlines everywhere. However, the relationship between these startups and established technology giants is far from clear. 

Startup Pika Leads in Video Generation 

Pika, a generative AI startup, seems to be one step ahead of big tech companies, such as Google and OpenAI when it comes to AI-generated video creation. Founded by dropout Stanford PhD students Demi Guo and Chenlin Meng, Pika certainly has a small-player benefit. With a team of 13 people, the rate at which they develop new technology is astounding. While OpenAI’s text-to-video generation model, Sora, and Google’s Veo are yet to be publicly released, Pika already has a market-ready product. The startup continues to develop new technology that would allow people to edit their prompts or change the video post-generation. 

“We’re not trying to build a product for film production. What we’re trying to do is something more for everyday consumers,” Guo said. The problem with video generation herein lies: it’s expensive and requires an immense amount of computing power.

Despite these drawbacks, it’s undeniable that video generation is in the future of AI. Pika recently received a $470 million valuation, and in their most recent funding round raised an additional $80 million, bringing their total funding to $135 million. 

Other startups have been quick to fill market gaps, meeting consumer needs with technology that hasn’t yet been publicly released by larger tech companies. Similar to Pika, Runway, and Synthesia are two AI startups that aim to simplify and transform video creation. 

Empowering Creators by Integrating Royalties 

Raive is another generative AI multimedia startup, the first of its kind to feature built-in IP attribution and royalties. Automating this attribution process can help individual creators receive credit and earn money from the media they create. As such, it can help facilitate influencer marketing deals by simplifying revenue-sharing contracts. By giving individuals ownership over their work, this technology has the potential to propel the creative utilization of AI. In that vein, Raive recently announced a partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Raive plans to educate those in the fashion industry about the creativity-enhancing benefits of AI while preserving intellectual property. 

Big Tech’s Startup Bets 

The emergence of startups in the AI space is nothing new. Back in 2019, the now-established household company OpenAI was invested in by Microsoft. That investment is now greater than $13 billion. Microsoft also paid $650 million cash to startup Inflection AI to be able to license their software. Similar investments, partnerships, and acquisitions have been forged by other big tech companies. Back in 2014, AI startup DeepMind was acquired by Google for $400 million. Google and Amazon have both invested in Anthropic, for a joint total of $6 billion. 

Regulatory Risks in Startup Relations

Such relationships between large tech companies and startups raise concerns for some, who fear that this is simply a way for bigger players to maintain their market dominance. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating Google, Microsoft, and Amazon on anti-monopoly grounds. Past cases have largely centered around bigger companies buying smaller ones, but have yet to focus on what happens when they establish partnerships or buy stakes in them. The F.TC.  is now looking into the benefits and risks of these relationships, in order to better moderate them when needed. For bigger tech, it’s important to consider federal regulation when establishing relationships with smaller companies. 

Startups Spur Innovation

Silicon Valley has long been known for innovation, and that innovation has often come from these smaller players. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, for example, disrupted the Silicon Valley status quo when they founded Apple in 1977. This cycle of innovative disruption is what brought us the internet, personal computers, and smartphones.

Undeniably, startups have an incredible incentive to innovate, needing to provide a new product to the market and court new consumers. This is why startups have always been so influential in tech– by bringing something new to the market and creating or fulfilling untapped consumer needs, they wield incredible power to inspire the direction of broader trends. 

Balancing Big and Small Tech

It’s a delicate balance between establishing fruitful partnerships between companies and fostering the independence of early-stage startups. Larger companies hold the power to fund novel technologies and foster up-and-coming companies. Amidst a hyper-competitive AI landscape, these relationships can be make-or-break for smaller companies. For companies like Pika and Raive, who have yet to establish any such relationships, it remains to be seen how they will interact with these looming powers of big tech. 

Stay up to date on our latest posts by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on Linkedin and Instagram.

Want a creative partner?
Tell us how we can help with your storytelling  and strategy needs.
Speak at one of our events!
Do you have an inspiring topic you'd like to present or know someone who does?
+1 (646) 486-7109
500 7th Ave, New York, NY 10018

Contact us

Let us know what you want to know!

Thank you for your message.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please try again.