Amazon’s cloud business just had its slowest growth in years, but CEO Andy Jassy says an A.I. spending ‘deluge’ is coming

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As Wall Street grimaced over Amazon’s decelerating cloud business sales, CEO Andy Jassy had a clear message for investors: Don’t panic, A.I. is on the way.

“Few folks appreciate how much new cloud business will happen over the next several years from the pending deluge from machine learning that’s coming,” Jassy said during Amazon’s Q1 earnings call on Thursday.

Artificial intelligence has become the buzzword of the business world, with companies touting A.I. for everything from improving internet search to making music. The so-called large language models that underlie certain A.I. products require vast amounts of computing horsepower, and Amazon is hoping that a new crop of A.I. companies will choose to build their products on its AWS cloud service.

“Frankly, the models were not that compelling before about six [to] nine months ago, and they have gotten so much bigger and so much better much more quickly,” Jassy said, noting that it “really presents a remarkable opportunity.”

The value of scarce computing power to fuel the A.I. boom has been noted before, including by Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison, who said during an earnings call in March that “there’s actually more demand for A.I. processing than there is available capacity.”

But the forecast of a future A.I. bonanza was not enough to appease Amazon investors worried about the near-term state of AWS’ business. Amazon’s stock initially popped more than 9% in extended trading, as investors took heart in the internet retail giant’s better-than-expected revenue. But as observers homed in on the cloud business’ decelerating growth, the stock reversed course and slid 2%.

Even as Amazon executives talked up the A.I. during the call, they also acknowledge that AWS revenue so far in April is on track to grow 11%, a sharp drop from the roughly 16% growth AWS posted in the first quarter, which was itself a significant deceleration of the 37% growth that AWS generated at the same time last year.

According to a Zion Market Research study, the A.I. market was valued at nearly $59.67 billion in 2021, and is estimated to grow to a whopping $422.37 billion by 2028.

Amazon’s ambitions to become the go-to cloud provider for A.I. is likely to face stiff competition from cloud rivals Microsoft and Google, both of which have powerful cloud service businesses and growing A.I. clout. Google is developing many of its own LLMs and Microsoft has invested $13 billion in OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT.

Amazon is developing homegrown A.I. as well, with its own large language model, dubbed Titan. The company also recentnly unveiled a new privacy-focused A.I. cloud service called Bedrock, aimed at businesses wary of feeding proprietary data into LLMs operated by other companies.

“So many customer experiences are going to be reinvented, and invented, that haven’t existed before,” Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said on Thursday’s call referring to A.I. “That’s all going to be spent, in my opinion, on the cloud.”

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