Microsoft and Amazon to invest $5.6 billion into France as Macron courts tech giants

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A Microsoft logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen and Amazon logo in the background in Athens, Greece on October 5, 2023. 
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Microsoft and Amazon are ploughing billions of dollars into France.

Microsoft said in a statement Monday that it’s committing 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) toward expanding its cloud and AI infrastructure in France, in addition to funding AI skilling and support for France’s technology industry.

The company said it plans to invest bring up to 25,000 of the most advanced GPUs, or graphics processing units, to France by the end of 2025. Microsoft will also train 1 million people up and support 2,500 AI startups by 2027.

The announcement was made during the “Choose France” summit, a gathering dedicated to encouraging foreign investment in France.

“This major investment demonstrates a steadfast commitment to supporting digital innovation and economic growth in France,” said Microsoft’s President Brad Smith in a statement Monday.

“We are building state-of-the-art Cloud and AI infrastructure, training people with AI skills, and supporting French startups as they use our technology with confidence to grow in a fair and responsible way.”

As part of its investment, Microsoft will also open a new data center in the French city of Mulhouse.

Amazon, meanwhile, made a commitment of its own to invest 1.2 billion euros in France.

The money will go toward creating more than 3,000 jobs in France — in addition to the 2,000 new jobs Amazon’s already announced for 2024 — as well as broadly increasing Amazon’s footprint in the country, according to Frederic Duval, Amazon’s country manager.

“The expansion of our logistics network supports local economic development, creates quality jobs and allows us to reduce the carbon footprint of our deliveries while improving the overall customer experience,” Duval said in a statement Monday.

Collectively, the commitments from Microsoft and Amazon to France amount to $5.6 billion of funding. In total, France reportedly bagged a record 15 billion euros of investment commitments from foreign companies at an annual “Choose France” summit on Monday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to promote France as an artificial intelligence hub. Paris is already a major center of AI research and development, with Facebook having established one of its main AI labs, FAIR, there in 2015.

Last year, at the VivaTech technology fair in Paris, Macron announced 500 million euros ($540 million) in new funding to create new AI “champions,” adding to previous commitments from the government, including a promise to pump 1.5 billion euros into AI before 2022.

Microsoft is also making a charm offensive of its own with its commitment to invest billions of euros into France at a time when French officials have expressed concerns with the Redmond, Washington-based tech giant’s investment in AI startup Mistral.

Microsoft recently made a 15 million euro investment into Mistral. The deal saw Microsoft getting a stake in Mistral and the latter adding its large language model to the technology giant’s Azure cloud computing platform.

Microsoft has pushed back on competition concerns surrounding its investment in Mistral, saying that the company remains independent and that its partnership is a minority equity investment and a commercial relationship, not a merger. Britain’s competition regulator is seeking feedback on the deal.

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