Here are the five most important stories we are tracking today – Monday, November 13, 2023.

1️⃣ Google’s AI-powered search experience expands globally

Google's AI-driven search experience, known as Search Generative Experience (SGE), is now expanding globally after its initial introduction in select markets like the U.S., India, and Japan. The conversational AI feature will be accessible in over 120 new countries and territories worldwide, introducing support for four additional languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Indonesian.

Similar to AI integrations into Microsoft's Bing Search and Edge browser, Google's SGE enables users to interact with AI using natural language, receiving detailed responses instead of traditional link lists.

Launched earlier this year, SGE has seen continuous updates, including AI-generated summaries for paywalled articles, improved coding-related answers, and the ability to ask follow-up questions directly on search result pages. These advancements aim to enhance user experience and maintain Google's relevance in the AI-powered search landscape.

2️⃣ China’s Singles Day festival wraps up with $156B in estimated sales

China's Singles Day, celebrated on November 11, has solidified its position as the world's largest online shopping event, surpassing Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Amazon Prime Day.

The cumulative gross merchandising volume (GMV) sales across major e-commerce platforms during this year's event increased by 2.08% to reach 1.14 trillion yuan ($156.40 billion), as reported by data provider Syntun. This growth, though slightly lower than last year's 2.9%, underscores the continued significance of Singles Day in the global retail landscape.

Alibaba Group, the powerhouse behind the event, noted year-on-year growth during the Singles Day sales period. However, the company did not disclose the specific value of its sales. Rival also experienced a surge in sales volumes, reaching record highs. The success of Singles Day highlights the robustness of China's e-commerce market and the increasing dominance of this shopping extravaganza on the international stage.

3️⃣ Threads users can now keep their posts off Instagram and Facebook

In a move to respond to user feedback and improve engagement on the platform, Threads, Instagram’s version of X (formerly Twitter) competitor is gradually rolling out a new feature, allowing users to disable post suggestions on Instagram or Facebook within the Threads app's privacy settings.

Threads which had received an initial boost from Twitter’s challenges, quickly surpassing 100 million signups following its blockbuster launch had seen initial excitement wear off and struggled to keep users around due to its limited feature set.

Working to address this, Meta, the parent company, has been actively introducing several sought-after features, such as a Threads web app, a search function, a following feed, and the ability to share posts through Instagram DMs. The latest addition is the opt-out switch, allowing users to prevent their Threads posts from being suggested on Instagram and Facebook.

To do this, users can navigate to the privacy section of the Threads app, select "Suggesting posts on other apps," and uncheck the toggles for Facebook and Instagram.

4️⃣ Google to invest in AI startup Character.AI

Google is reportedly in talks to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Character.AI, the fast-growing artificial intelligence chatbot startup founded by former Google employees Noam Shazeer and Daniel De Freitas, according to Reuters, citing two sources.

Both companies already have an existing partnership which allows the AI startup to use Google's cloud services and Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) to train models. It is believed that the investment, which could be structured as convertible notes, will deepen the existing partnership between Character.AI and Google.

In March 2023, the AI startup raised $150 million at a $1 billion valuation and is said to also be in talks to raise equity funding from venture capital investors, with a potential valuation of over $5 billion, according to the sources.

Google recently invested $2 billion in AI startup Anthropic, as it looks to compete with tech giants Microsoft and Alibaba in the AI space.

5️⃣ IBM is injecting $500 million into an AI venture fund

With its data and AI revenue going up 6% quarter-over-quarter in Q3 2023, IBM is now setting aside $500 million to invest in an AI venture fund that could bolster enterprise-grade generative AI solutions.

The company has previously invested in AI-focused startups including Hugging Face in August 2023 and HiddenLayer in September 2023, and this new AI venture fund will go toward a range of AI companies, from early-stage startups to rapidly growing industry leaders. As part of the venture fund, selected startups will work with a dedicated team at IBM on go-to-market strategies.

The move is a clear indication that the software giant wants to position itself as a leader in infrastructure and expertise in order to draw in enterprise customers interested in generative AI adoption.

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