Time Magazine partners with OpenAI and ElevenLabs

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Time Magazine, the iconic red-bordered former news weekly founded 101-years ago by print magnate Henry Luce (who also founded Fortune and Life), appears to be diving headfirst into the generative AI age with partnerships with major AI startups OpenAI and ElevenLabs announced today.

Partnering with OpenAI to serve Time content through ChatGPT while training AI on it

First up, Time is partnering with OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT and the underlying GPT-4o and GPT series of models, as well as DALL-E 3, Whisper, Codex, and others.

As with the other partnerships OpenAI has struck with media brands, the tie-up will give the fast-growing AI company access to Time’s current and archival content for OpenAI to train its models on, while Time in return, will receive distribution and exposure in the form of ChatGPT serving up summaries and potentially reproductions of its content, with links back to the source Time articles and website.

Time will also get access to new OpenAI tools and models it can use in the course of its journalism and business endeavors.

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Or as Time puts it in its press release: “The partnership will also enable TIME to gain access to OpenAI’s technology to develop new products for its audiences, along with the opportunity to provide vital feedback and share practical applications to refine and enhance the delivery of journalism in ChatGPT and other OpenAI products and shape the future of news experiences.”

In fact, the tie-up with Time is the eighth publicly disclosed partnership OpenAI has struck with a major media company, leading to my conclusion last month that OpenAI is devouring the media industry player by player. To review, here are all the media companies OpenAI has partnered with that I know of:

Notable holdouts to trend of media companies partnering with OpenAI include the New York Times Company, which is suing OpenAI and Microsoft over alleged copyright infringement for OpenAI’s apparent training on New York Times news articles and other content, and Condé Nast, publisher of Wired (where my wife works as editor-in-chief), Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and other premium media brands. OpenAI has said the New York Times lawsuit is “without merit.”

Partnering with ElevenLabs on automated article voice overs on Time.com

Separately but relatedly for Time embracing AI tools, the voice cloning and audio AI startup ElevenLabs also announced it is working with the media brand.

Specifically, Time is implementing ElevenLabs’s embeddable “Audio Native” player, which automatically narrates written articles using AI generated voices, on its website.

ElevenLabs states in a blog post that it has actually been testing the tech with Time since 2023, but that this week, the feature was turned on officially “on select articles” including one about President Joe Biden’s leadership style.

“Through this partnership, we hope to expand on TIME’s mission of providing access to trusted information by opening a new avenue for engagement with audio,” wrote ElevenLabs.

The news follows ElevenLab’s move earlier this week to launch its first iOS app, ElevenLabs Reader, which allows users to paste in URLs to any text content on the web such as news articles, or upload PDFs, Word Docs, and other text-based digital files, and have ElevenLabs’ AI voices automatically narrate them.

Clearly, the move by Time to embrace two up-and-coming AI companies and provide them with content shows a strong vote of confidence in the technology overall.

Whether Time will be able to reach more readers/a larger audience through ElevenLabs and OpenAI is an open question (no pun intended).

Recall Time also embraced NFTs and the Metaverse briefly, but has not really developed its efforts there beyond some initial experiments, nor have they contributed much to Time‘s revenue or business health overall, from what I’m aware. Will its AI efforts follow a similar fate?

This is complete conjecture, but I’d say that the AI partnerships are likely to prove more useful for Time than some of those other experimental tech ventures, particularly the ElevenLabs audio narration, which provides immediate utility that Time would not have or likely prove to be more costly to provide otherwise.

As for the AI companies, it would seem to be a clear win, providing them with more content on which to train their models (though it’s unclear if ElevenLabs is getting this same access as OpenAI), and more validation from existing, established brands.

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