To give you a little more context -- and paraphrasing Alex's post -- we have entered the third wave of AI startups. The wave of applied AI companies. The first wave was purely research-driven companies, with companies like Deepmind and Nnaissence standing out. Most of them never really commercialized their product and were acquihired before generating revenues . A second wave followed and consisted of companies building machine learning infrastructures.
Mere hours after regulators gave Facebook permission to open a startup incubator in the province of Zhejiang, the approval has disappeared -- and a New York Times source claims officials have formally withdrawn that approval. Reportedly, the country's Cyberspace Administration was "angry" that Zhejiang officials hadn't consulted it in earnest before giving Facebook the go-ahead. This doesn't rule out another chance for Facebook, but it isn't likely to get a second shot in the near future. Facebook has declined to comment, and officials haven't responded. However, this illustrates the challenges for foreign tech companies entering China, especially when their main businesses are censored in the country.
Y Combinator, the San Francisco startup accelerator which fostered Airbnb and Dropbox, announced a new program Sunday for its next round of investments that will focus on AI-related startup companies. "We want to level the playing field for startups to ensure that innovation doesn't get locked up in large companies like Google or Facebook," wrote Y Combinator partner Daniel Gross, who worked at Apple and ran personal planning startup Cue before becoming a Y Combinator partner three months ago. Y Combinator's management clearly believes that there's big money to be made by the right AI idea -- the kind made through true improvement in lives or businesses, rather than zany stock market valuations. But AI research can be costly and take years. To that end, Gross pledged resources that Y Combinator thinks could give two-person startups a chance against the deep R&D budgets at Facebook, Google and other established tech megafirms -- which were once scrappy startups themselves, funded by long-term believers like Y Combinator.