OpenAI launches second Converge startup cohort

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Palace intrigue might be dominating the news cycle around OpenAI, but the AI startup — and its accelerator programs — are chugging along uninterrupted, so the PR team tells me.

OpenAI today announced the launch of Converge-2, the second cohort of its six-week Converge program for “exceptional engineers, designers, researchers, and product builders using AI to reimagine the world,” as the company describes it in a blog post published this morning.

As with members of OpenAI’s first Converge cohort, the 10-15 startups chosen to participate in Converge-2 will receive a $1 million equity investment from the OpenAI Startup Fund, the $100 million-plus entrepreneurial tranche announced last May backed by Microsoft and other OpenAI partners. Do the math, and that’s at least a $10 million investment in the Converge-2 program — not an insubstantial chunk of change.

In addition to the capital, Converge-2 participants will gain access to tech talks, office hours, social events and conversations with “leading practitioners” and OpenAI’s “community of builders,” according to the blog post. Importantly, they won’t be forced to build on top of OpenAI’s APIs; OpenAI stresses that the program is “for anyone building or aspiring to build with AI,” although one assumes that the network effects will make OpenAI’s technologies extraordinarily attractive.

OpenAI is encouraging founders from all backgrounds, disciplines and experience levels to apply, including those based outside of the U.S. Prior experience working with AI systems isn’t required. But OpenAI will require that startups selected devote at least four to six hours to the program per week from March 11 to April 19, with the first and last week of the program taking place in San Francisco (OpenAI will cover travel costs.)

The deadline for applications is January 26.

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