According to The Wall Street Journal, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, is looking for trillions of dollars in investments to improve the worldwide semiconductor industry. Altman has frequently discussed the issue of supply and demand for AI chips, where many companies want them but there aren’t sufficient chips available, which hinders OpenAI’s expansion.
He is contemplating a plan to boost global chip manufacturing capacity, as reported in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday evening. Additionally, Altman is reportedly engaging in discussions with various investors, including the government of the United Arab Emirates.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Altman might have to gather between $5 trillion and $7 trillion for this project, as mentioned by one source.
Altman’s Vision for AI Infrastructure and Industry Dynamics
Altman stated on X platform on Wednesday that OpenAI thinks there’s a greater need for AI infrastructure, including fabrication capacity, energy, and data centers, than what’s currently being planned. He emphasized the importance of constructing large-scale AI infrastructure and a robust supply chain for economic competitiveness, stating that OpenAI would strive to contribute to this effort.
This development comes after some controversy surrounding Altman’s past involvements and investments in chip projects.
Before Altman was briefly removed as CEO of OpenAI, there were reports that he was looking to secure billions for a new chip venture called “Tigris,” which had not been established yet. The goal was to eventually rival Nvidia. Altman traveled to the Middle East to solicit funds from investors for this venture.
In 2018, Altman made a personal investment in an AI chip startup named Rain Neuromorphics, which is located close to OpenAI’s headquarters in San Francisco. Subsequently, in 2019, OpenAI expressed its intention to invest $51 million in Rain’s chips. However, in December, the U.S. forced a venture capital firm backed by Saudi Aramco to divest its shares in Rain.
During the recent surge in generative AI, Nvidia has emerged as a major financial success story, with its market value increasing more than threefold in 2023. The company’s graphics processing units (GPUs) are instrumental in powering the expansive language models developed by OpenAI, Alphabet, Meta, and a growing number of well-funded startups, all competing for a share of the generative AI market.
At present, Nvidia holds approximately 80% of the AI chip market, boasting a market capitalization of around $1.72 trillion, which brings it close to surpassing tech giants like Amazon and Alphabet in market value. Altman presumably aims to alter this situation.
ChatGPT Journey and Leadership Changes
In November 2022, at the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the company had a restricted supply of GPUs and capacity. OpenAI’s COO, Brad Lightcap, shared that time, the company primarily viewed itself as a provider of tools for developers and businesses.
Lightcap recalled that when it came to releasing the ChatGPT bot, which has since gained widespread popularity, Altman strongly advocated for “just trying it.” Altman’s belief was that there was something significant and personal about interacting with the models through text.
The decision yielded positive results. ChatGPT achieved unprecedented success, becoming the fastest-growing consumer application in history at the time of its launch. Currently, it boasts over 100 million weekly active users and is utilized by over 92% of Fortune 500 companies, as reported by OpenAI.
In November of last year, OpenAI’s board removed Altman from his position, leading to resignations or the threat of resignations, including an open letter signed by nearly all of OpenAI’s employees. This move also caused concern among investors, including Microsoft.
However, Altman returned to his role at the company within a week. Since then, OpenAI has unveiled a new board, which includes former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo. Microsoft secured a non voting board observer position, and the company intends to add more seats in the future.
Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, wants to improve the semiconductor industry by raising trillions. He faces chip supply challenges and plans to boost manufacturing and engage with investors. Despite past issues, Altman aims to strengthen AI infrastructure for economic competitiveness as OpenAI evolves under new leadership.