Although AI is still in its early days, it’s already causing quite a ruckus in the financial industry, with tech giants pouring billions of dollars into the technology and startups gathering capital to fund the development of business models that use AI, reports an article in The Wall Street Journal. Investors are also trying to determine just how much AI will disrupt current business practices, and are wagering on their predictions. That’s caused some stocks to surge, like Nvidia, and others to plunge, like study-materials maker Chegg, as well as being a major driver of tech stocks’ rebound this year.
Meanwhile, ChatGPT garnered 100 million users in just two months (for comparison, Instagram took 30 months to achieve that, while TikTok took 9), and an analysis of company conference calls around the world this year shows over 300 mentions of “generative AI,” according to the article. Indeed, Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts on a recent conference call that AI will be “huge, and we’ll continue weaving it in our products on a very thoughtful basis.” Companies across all sectors are experimenting with AI, from healthcare to grocery delivery services and even Coca-Cola. That widespread popularity has led investors to speculate that we are on the brink of a major technological disruption, such as how online streaming brought about the end of home-video-rentals and how the iPhone put Kodak in decline. And while some strategists believe that this first wave of AI is may be overblown, the ramifications down the road will undoubtedly be monumental.
In January, Microsoft announced they had invested $10 billion in the developer of ChatGPT, OpenAI; since then, the tech giant has added almost $500 billion in market value. Nvidia stock has skyrocketed 96% in 2023. On the flip side, when Alphabet’s chatbot Bard failed to make a splash with investors, the Google parent company lost $100 billion in market value, although it quickly regained those losses and shares are up 22% so far this year. What remains to be seen is how all of the spending on AI developers and startups will impact revenues and profits, and the rush to understand that impact is important as investors sort out the AI winners from its eventual losers. “You just don’t know all the knock-on effects,” Will Graves of Boardman Bay Capital Management told The Journal. “If this really is an iPhone moment, nobody saw that Uber was coming out of the iPhone to hammer the taxi industry.”