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Microsoft’s CEO Adds AI for Thailand on Southeast Asia Tour

In Technology
May 01, 2024

(Bloomberg) — Microsoft Corp. will invest in artificial intelligence infrastructure and set up its first Azure data center in Thailand, part of a push to expand its footprint in fast-growing Southeast Asia.

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The OpenAI backer sees AI adding as much as $1 trillion in value to the region, Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said during a company event in Bangkok Wednesday. “Even in Thailand, double-digit growth of over $100 billion plus can be driven, because of the productivity curve that can be bent by AI,” he said.

The software maker also said it will provide AI training for 100,000 young entrepreneurs involved in the country’s tourism sector. The previous day, the company unveiled a $1.7 billion outlay in Indonesia, to be made over four years.

Nadella’s tour of Southeast Asia follows high-profile visits by Nvidia Corp.’s Jensen Huang and Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook to the region, where Chinese and US tech titans as well as local startups are locked in a fierce battle in pursuit of growth.

Thailand’s economy has fallen behind, however, attracting less foreign direct investment than its peers as it grapples with soaring public and household debt and an aging population. That’s spurred Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to lobby tech firms to invest in the kingdom.

“Thailand is ready for AI,” Srettha said ahead of a meeting with Nadella. “The government will fully support the growth of the AI industry in this country.”

Microsoft has been infusing technology from its partnership with OpenAI into its cloud and AI offerings. That helped lift sales and profit above expectations in the March quarter, with Nadella last week telling analysts that Azure took market share from rivals.

The company earlier said it’s providing AI skills to 2.5 million people in the region by 2025, including cybersecurity training for students in the Philippines and AI literacy in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

(Updates with company announcement and prime minister remarks)

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