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OpenAI CEO Sam Altman seeks as much as $7 trillion for new AI chip project: Report


OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is seeking billions of dollars in investments to overhaul the global semiconductor industry, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Altman has long talked about the supply and demand problem with AI chips – many AI giants want them, but there aren’t enough to go around – and that this limits the growth of OpenAI. He is considering a project that would increase global chip manufacturing capacity, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal late Thursday, and is in talks with various investors, including the United Arab Emirates government.

Altman may need to raise between $5 trillion and $7 trillion for the project, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a source. CNBC could not confirm the number. OpenAI did not respond to a request for comment.

On Wednesday, Altman posted on He added that “building a large-scale AI infrastructure and a resilient supply chain is crucial for economic competitiveness” and that OpenAI would try to help.

The news follows some controversy over some of Altman’s previous chip projects and investments.

Just before Altman’s brief ouster as CEO of OpenAI, he reportedly sought billions for a new, yet-to-be-formed chip company named “Tigris” to compete with Nvidia, traveling to the Middle East to raise funds from investors.

In 2018, Altman personally invested in an AI chip startup called Rain Neuromorphics, based near OpenAI’s headquarters in San Francisco, and in 2019, OpenAI signed a letter of intent to spend $51 million in Rain chips. In December, the United States forced a Saudi Aramco-backed venture capital firm to sell its shares in Rain.

Nvidia was the big money maker during last year’s generative AI boom, with its market capitalization more than tripling in 2023. The company’s graphics processing units, or GPUs, power the big models languages ​​created by OpenAI, Alphabet, Meta and a growing number of heavily funded startups all fighting for a piece of the generative AI pie.

Nvidia currently controls around 80% of this AI chip market with a current market cap of around $1.72 trillion, not far from overtaking tech giants such as Amazon and Alphabet in market capitalization. Altman is likely looking to change that.

In November 2022, when OpenAI’s ChatGPT launched, the company had a limited number of GPUs and capacity, and largely saw itself as a company that creates tools for developers and businesses, Brad said Lightcap, COO of OpenAI, at CNBC last November. When it came to launching his now-viral ChatGPT bot, Lightcap recalled that Altman was a big proponent of “just trying,” his thesis being that there was something important and personal about textual interaction with models.

This approach bore fruit. ChatGPT broke records at the time as the fastest growing consumer app in history and now has over 100 million weekly active users, as well as over 92% of Fortune 500 companies using the platform, according to OpenAI.

Last November, OpenAI’s board ousted Altman, prompting resignations — or threats of resignation — including an open letter signed by virtually every OpenAI employee and an outcry from investors including Microsoft . Within a week, Altman was back at the company. Since then, OpenAI has announced a new board of directors, including former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo. Microsoft was granted a non-voting observer position and the company still plans to add additional seats.

Read more on The Wall Street Journal



Note: The content and images used in this article is rewritten and sourced from www.cnbc.com

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