The $10bn enterprise venture firm, which began life as SAP's corporate venture unit, is following a number of CVCs in putting big money behind generative AI.

Digital blue line diagram of a human head and brain inside a microchip
Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

Sapphire Ventures, the venture firm spun off by enterprise software provider SAP, pledged yesterday to put more than $1bn into artificial intelligence startups, the latest investor to make a big bet on the sector.

The move comes in the wake of high-profile AI funds launched by corporate investors Salesforce Ventures, Baidu and Dropbox in recent months.

Sapphire is prioritising generative AI (GenAI) technology.

“AI represents a profound technology shift, and our $1bn commitment reflects our conviction in the opportunity,” said Sapphire Ventures CEO Nino Marakovic in a release. He has headed the firm since 2006 when it was still known as SAP Ventures.

“We believe companies are only beginning to see the benefits of AI and GenAI, specifically. Soon, we expect there to be a massive, AI-driven productivity boom that will benefit workers at every level and create value throughout the global economy. We’re eager to back the next wave of enterprise innovators driving this evolution.”

Sapphire, which has $10bn of assets under management, has already backed enterprise software producers that combine AI with data technology, as well as developers of AI technology that can help improve business operations.

The firm now plans to move heavily into generative AL, and that includes its fund-of-funds subsidiary, Sapphire Partners, which is looking at emerging VC firms targeting the technology. Its recent investments include Simpplr, which is using AI to personalise employee engagement.

“This next AI wave will replace task-specific models that have dominated the AI landscape to-date,” said Jai Das, Sapphire Ventures’ president. “We look forward to partnering with companies that are not only improving existing workflows and software but are building AI-native solutions that reinvent applications and user experiences.”

Robert Lavine

Robert Lavine is special features editor for Global Venturing.