HomeAutomation/AITelecom billionaire Xavier Niel jumps on the AI bandwagon

    Telecom billionaire Xavier Niel jumps on the AI bandwagon


    He is to invest €200 million in a bid to ensure Europe remains competitive with China and the US

    The French telecoms billionaire, Xavier Niel, is to invest €200 million in AI through his telecoms group, Iliad, hedging his bets by investing across various projects.

    They will include: a cloud-based supercomputer powered by the biggest maker of AI-enabled chips, NVIDIA; a research centre in Paris; and an annual AI conference. This will be held at Niel’s start-up compus in the French capital, known as Station F.

    Niel said in a statement: “To influence the AI ​​market, you need computing power. To have computing power, you need supercomputers. And to have supercomputers, you have to invest massively.”

    Striving for a European alternative

    Iliad’s cloud subsidiary Scaleway has been striving to offer an alternative to the US-headquartered public cloudcos and their heavy investment in Generative AI. He added in the statement: “By equipping [the cloud] with a supercomputer, we want — and we can — create a European AI champion. It’s a question of sovereignty: to protect our data, we need platforms established on our territory.”

    Niel continued, “It is not enough to create a champion, but an entire French ecosystem. Because we want to contribute to it, we are going to create an AI research laboratory, providing the means and recruiting the best researchers.”

    Seed money

    He’s not the only one with this idea: in June, French start-up Mistral raised €105 million in Europe’s largest-ever seed round, followed by French President Emmanuel Macron announcing €500 million in new funding to boost French GenAI projects.

    These projects are, however, dwarfed by the billions the Big Tech is spending to gain dominance: Amazon just announced it would invest up to $4 billion in Anthropic as it plays catch-up with Google and Microsoft.