OpenAI CEO Sam Altman wants to transform the global semiconductor industry. The catch: he needs $7 trillion. That’s how much he believes it costs to increase the world’s chip production capabilities and enhance the infrastructure for powering AI technologies.
Altman’s venture seeks to address the acute shortage of advanced AI chips, essential for developing large language models like ChatGPT. These graphics processing units (GPUs) are critical for OpenAI’s pursuit of artificial general intelligence, systems envisioned to surpass human intellect.
This scale of investment is enormous not just in comparison to the semiconductor industry’s current financial figures (a measly $527 million in 2023 that is projected to grow to $1 trillion in 2030) but also the scale of typical corporate fundraising, it’s $1 trillion more than the combined market capitalization of Microsoft and Apple, the two most valuable companies in the world.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Altman’s proposal involves collaboration between OpenAI, investors, chip manufacturers, and energy providers to establish new chip foundries, managed by existing semiconductor companies, with OpenAI as a significant customer.
In January, Bloomberg reported that Altman was in talks with Abu Dhabi-based G42 and SoftBank Group Corp. Around the same time, Financial Times reported that he has held discussions with “investors in the United Arab Emirates, including Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan, one of Abu Dhabi’s wealthiest and most influential figures,” as well as chip makers including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC).
The project also aligns with US strategic interests in semiconductor manufacturing, although it faces challenges related to location, workforce availability, and geopolitical considerations, particularly concerning foreign participation in critical technology sectors.
The discussions are reportedly still in their early stages and none of the companies purportedly involved have spoken about it. But it is indicative of Altman’s vision for AI.
Altman, who founded OpenAI with Elon Musk, was briefly ousted from the company — in what felt like a high-speed TV drama — in November. He was reinstated in two weeks.
Information for this story was found via Bloomberg, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.