- Altman is reportedly seeking staggering investment for new chip endeavor
- Project would remake the industry for the semiconductors that power AI
- Altman said to be in talks with UAE officials and Japan’s Masayoshi Son
OpenAI chief Sam Altman is reportedly seeking trillions of dollars to reshape the global semiconductor industry, and has held talks with potential investors including the UAE government.
The project, which aims to boost production of the chips that power AI, could require raising as much as $7 trillion, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
It would be a staggering and unprecedented sum in the history of venture capital, greater than the combined current market capitalizations of Apple and Microsoft, and more than the annual GDP of Japan or Germany.
According to the Journal, Altman has met with several potential investors, including SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son and Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al Nahyan, the UAE’s head of security.
Altman is reportedly looking to solve some of the biggest challenges faced by the rapidly-expanding AI sector — including a shortage of the expensive computer chips needed to power large-language models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
OpenAI chief Sam Altman is reportedly seeking trillions of dollars to reshape the global semiconductor industry, and has held talks with potential investors including the UAE
The global chip industry is currently dominated by just a few firms, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and US-based NVIDIA.
The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has forecast a 13.1 percent jump in global chip sales to $595.3 billion this year, compared with a drop of about 8 percent in sales in 2023.
While many countries have unveiled plans to support domestic chip production, the financial support they have offered pales in comparison with the vast sums of money Altman has reportedly been discussing with investors.
An OpenAI spokesperson told the Journal the company has held ‘productive discussions about increasing global infrastructure and supply chains for chips, energy and data centers.’
They added that they would ‘continue to keep the US government informed given the importance to national priorities.’
Altman has held meetings with senior government officials from the United Arab Emirates, as well as SoftBank’s chief executive Masayoshi Son and representatives from TSMC, according to the Journal.
Both Bloomberg and the Financial Times have also reported on some of Altman’s meetings in recent weeks.
According to the Journal, Altman has met with several potential investors, including SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son
The national security adviser of the United Arab Emirates, Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan (right) was also reportedly involved in the talks
Altman has floated the idea of building dozens of chip-fabrication plants in the next few years with money from Middle East investors, and then paying TSMC to build and operate them, the Journal said.
After rising to prominence following the widely-publicized release of ChatGPT, Altman’s fortunes have wavered in recent months.
He was briefly fired from his position at the AI firm in November, only to be rehired a few days later after staff and investors rebelled.
Meanwhile, OpenAI hit the $2 billion revenue milestone in December, the Financial Times reported on Friday, citing two people with knowledge of the AI start-up’s finances.
OpenAI believes it can more than double this figure in 2025, based on strong interest from business customers seeking to use its technology to adopt generative AI tools in the workplace, the report said.
The company’s annualized revenue topped $1.6 billion in December based on strong growth from its ChatGPT product, up from $1.3 billion as of mid-October, the Information had reported previously.
Investors have valued the San Francisco-based startup at more than $80 billion.