Over the past years, few leading tech companies have acquired most of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) startups in Silicon Valley, consolidating some of the best AI teams in the world but slowing down the AI advantage in other industries of harvesting information from large datasets —one of the most significant AI-based opportunities.
The strategy for some leading tech companies is to bring the talent in-house and figure out later what to do with them; the acquisitions are regularly unrelated to the success of its products as the acquiring company usually shelved the offering or embedded the technology as a feature in another product. From a business side, this highly rational strategy provides substantial ROI as they are competing for future AI-based products. However, they are not only depriving their competition of talent but also the rest of the economy and the innovation ecosystem.
As a new disruptive effort eventually succeeds a decade or two later, the hoarding strategy from tech companies is undercutting 95% of the impact AI could have on the global economy and society: aggregated revenue of the five leading U.S. tech companies represent less than 5% of total U.S. GDP. The cut is an unfortunate situation for other industries, where "less-disruptive-considered" AI-based applications and products might have a hugely significant impact on a shorter timescale.
These other industries (from retail to agriculture) must respond back to the tech companies strategy or should face the risk of being left behind out of the next decade of innovation —primarily driven by AI and data analytics, as AI is becoming critical for accelerating business growth. Industry leaders must recognize the situation and acknowledge what is at stake, then create an appealing environment to attract, retain, and focus innovative talent, to later perform an aggressive search for people in startups and research centers. Acquiring the talent is not the only means to advance as an industry, but building the core talent, innovative technology, and robust business model can help to assure the future success.
There is a massive opportunity for AI-based products and companies in industries outside the tech sector with relatively little competition in the short and medium term. Definitely, the other industries must take proactive measures to catch the leading tech companies by capitalizing major technology transformations and benefit their consumers through AI-based innovation.