OpenAI announces new Tokyo office, hires former Amazon staffer to spearhead AI push

In the last few months, OpenAI has been hard at work to push boundaries and open new doors when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI). In its quest to do so, it faces competition from tech giants across the world, with Microsoft and Google just to name a few. To aid in its efforts, it has named the former president of Amazon Web Services’s Japan arm to spearhead its push to woo enterprise clients in the world’s fourth-largest economy, according to Bloomberg.

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OpenAI opens office in Japan

OpenAI has announced that it is opening an office in Tokyo as it releases a custom GPT-4 model catering to Japanese language users. It said it has 2 million weekly active users in the country, while its enterprise clients include Daikin Industries Ltd., Rakuten Group Inc. and an affiliate of Toyota Motor Corp.

“We want to build a track record through repeated dialogue with companies in Japan,” said Tadao Nagasaki, the newly-named Japan president for OpenAI, during a news conference Monday, as per a Bloomberg report. The Tokyo office will be the company’s third outpost overseas, following the opening of its doors in London and recently Dublin. According to Nagasaki, the Tokyo outpost will grow to about 10 to 20 workers this year.

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The startup is banking on surging demand for the corporate version of ChatGPT even as it confronts more rivals offering similar products for the workplace. It launched the business version of ChatGPT in August, adding privacy safeguards including data encryption and a promise that it won’t use information from customers to develop its technology.

More than 600,000 people have signed up to use ChatGPT Enterprise, up from around 150,000 in January. But competition for business customers is growing daily from the likes of Anthropic and Cohere, as well as its own investor, Microsoft Corp.

Japan is beginning to draw global attention for its potential as an AI market, as Tokyo funnels billions of dollars into the tech supply chain. Microsoft is investing $2.9 billion over the next two years to build out the country’s data centres and cloud computing infrastructure, while two former Google researchers have set up shop in Tokyo for their $200 million startup, Sakana AI. Microsoft is also partnering with SoftBank Corp. on generative AI, while OpenAI is working with Rakuten on local AI services.

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“Our excitement about Japan does in part stem from the country’s leadership in technology,” OpenAI Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap said.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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