Microsoft’s big bet on OpenAI, whose ChatGPT software can understand and generate conversational text, is starting to look like a stroke of genius. Microsoft plans to use OpenAI’s tech to improve results in Bing searches and help Word and Outlook customers automatically generate documents and emails using simple prompts, as The Information has reported.

But OpenAI is far from the only startup developing software that can understand language and that larger tech companies such as Google, Amazon, or Meta Platforms may want to license, partner with or acquire. In the last few years, top researchers from OpenAI, Alphabet’s DeepMind and Google, which pioneered the machine-learning techniques used in ChatGPT, have left those companies to launch or join six startups that compete with OpenAI.