The tech industry loves its garage start-up stories. From Hewlett-Packard to Google, the tales of bootstrapped companies that have turned into giants have inspired generations of entrepreneurs.

But the huge amounts of money and computing power needed for start-ups trying to make a go of it with today’s hottest technology, the artificial intelligence used in chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Bard, may be making those inspirational tales a thing of the past.

In 2019, Aidan Gomez and Nick Frosst left Google to create an A.I. start-up in Toronto called Cohere that could compete with their former employer. Several months later, they went back to Google and asked if it would sell them the enormous computing power they would need to build their own A.I. technology. After Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, personally approved the arrangement, the tech giant gave them what they wanted.