KDDI to acquire majority stake in generative AI startup

Japanese telecom giant KDDI will acquire a majority stake in a domestic startup that develops generative artificial intelligence.

The firm is Elyza, launched by University of Tokyo researchers. KDDI President and CEO Takahashi Makoto said Elyza is an industry leader with top-level technical and implementation expertise in Japan.

"We aim to expand our business in the field of generative AI," he added.

KDDI announced on Monday that it will acquire 53.4 percent of the company. It aims to purchase the shares by April 1 for a price estimated at billions of yen, or tens of millions of dollars.

Elyza announced last week that it has developed the most powerful domestically-produced generative AI, using US tech giant Meta's large language model called "Llama 2" as a base.

Elyza received support from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, which is backed by the industry ministry.

KDDI plans to combine the generative AI with its communications networks, and offer services for companies and local governments.

Other Japanese telecom firms are making similar moves with generative AI. NTT is starting new services for businesses this month. SoftBank plans to complete a major generative AI model within the next fiscal year, which starts in April.