Sam Altman, CEO of artificial intelligence pioneer OpenAI, is in talks with investors to raise as much as $5T-$7T for a major project that would boost the world’s chip-making capacity and its ability to power AI, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Potential investors include the United Arab Emirates government, as Altman recently met with the country’s national security advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al Nahyan. The Abu Dhabi royal chairs G42, a UAE-based AI firm and OpenAI partner.
The talks are still in early stages and the list of likely investors isn’t yet known, WSJ noted. The fundraising efforts could span years and may not be fruitful.
Altman has discussed the ambitious initiative with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. “OpenAI had productive discussions about increasing global infrastructure and supply chains for chips, energy and data centers,” a company spokesperson said.
The CEO also held talks with SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY) chief Masayoshi Son and representatives of chipmakers like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM). He’d met executives from South Korea’s semiconductor industry last month in his quest to establish chip factories. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), OpenAI’s early backer, is aware of the discussions and supports them.
“The world needs more AI infrastructure – fab capacity, energy, datacenters, etc. – than people are currently planning to build,” Altman previously said. “OpenAI will try to help!”
The news comes as the ChatGPT maker’s yearly run rate, or estimated annual revenue, hit $2B in December, two people aware of its finances told the Financial Times. This makes OpenAI one of the fastest-growing technology companies ever, with the likes of AI rivals Google (GOOG) (GOOGL) and Meta (META).
While 92% of Fortune 500 companies were using OpenAI products as of November, the startup is yet to turn a profit due to the huge costs of developing and running AI models – challenges that the ambitious project would address.