As Wall Street pushes valuations of AI companies into the atmosphere, America's small businesses are getting more 'AI curious,' survey shows

  • “Small businesses are AI-curious,” American Express said about its survey of 550 small business leaders.
  • 41% of small businesses said they’re prioritizing AI to help them make decisions. 
  • The AI investment frenzy on Wall Street led Nvidia’s valuation to swell by $248 billion in May. 

A large swath of businesses that drive nearly half of US economic activity is leaning into artificial intelligence, as valuations of AI-linked stocks have swelled by hundreds of billions of dollars in the equity market.

“Small businesses are AI-curious,” American Express said about the results of its recently released survey of 550 small business leaders.

The survey, which ran in March, showed that 41% of small businesses are prioritizing AI to help them make decisions. The online query found 39% of respondents were using AI tools for time-saving purposes and 20% were aiming for customer-service efficiency. 

There is also a generational divide: 56% small businesses run by Gen-Zers and Millennials are prioritizing AI regardless of their operational size versus 24% among older generations. 

The findings come as Wall Street is in the midst of an investment frenzy set off by last year’s introduction of natural-language chatbot ChatGPT. 

Stronger demand for AI products and prospects for the technology has prompted stock investors to pour billions of dollars into shares of chipmaker Nvidia and other companies this year.

Nvidia stock has surged 159% during 2023, and in May alone, Nvidia’s market capitalization jumped by $248 billion, outpacing gains among the top 20 global companies by market value, according to Reuters, citing Refinitiv data. This week, Nvidia stepped into a small club of companies valued at $1 trillion or more

Other Big Tech companies with AI tools are also seeing their market caps leap. Valuations of Google parent Alphabet and OpenAI investor Microsoft last month increased by $195 billion and $157 billion, respectively. 

But AI stocks have jumped so much that some on Wall Street think it’s time to reduce risk and capture some profits.

“We will be trimming a great deal of our profits in AI-related stocks over the next few weeks, as many of these stocks are up over 100% so far this year,” Michael Landsberg, chief investment officer at Landsberg Bennett Private Wealth Management, said in a note Thursday. 

“To see the market caps of AI-related stocks rise by hundreds of billions of dollars in a matter of weeks is worrisome, especially since it remains unclear exactly how these companies will monetize artificial intelligence.”