According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, is embarking on an ambitious mission to transform the global semiconductor industry. Seeking trillions of dollars in investments, Altman aims to address the supply-and-demand gap in AI chips, a constraint that hampers OpenAI’s growth prospects.
Altman’s initiative, as outlined in The Wall Street Journal, could necessitate raising between $5 trillion and $7 trillion, although this figure remains unverified by CNBC. OpenAI has not provided official comments regarding this endeavor. Altman recently emphasized the importance of scaling up AI infrastructure, including fabrication capacity, energy, and data centers, to enhance economic competitiveness and resilience in the supply chain.
This development comes amid controversies surrounding Altman’s involvement in chip ventures and investments. Reports suggest that just before Altman’s temporary removal as CEO of OpenAI, he sought billions for a new chip venture dubbed “Tigris” to compete with Nvidia, with efforts to secure funding from investors in the Middle East. Additionally, Altman’s investment in an AI chip startup named Rain Neuromorphic, coupled with OpenAI’s intent to spend $51 million on Rain’s chips, drew attention, particularly when the U.S. compelled a Saudi Aramco-backed venture capital firm to divest its shares in Rain.
Nvidia’s dominance in the AI chip market, with approximately 80% control and a market capitalization approaching $1.72 trillion, has been a notable factor driving Altman’s aspirations for change. With Nvidia’s GPUs powering prominent language models, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Altman likely seeks to challenge this market hegemony.
Altman’s strategic decisions, such as the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, have yielded significant outcomes for OpenAI. Despite initial limitations in GPU availability and capacity, ChatGPT achieved unprecedented success, boasting over 100 million weekly active users and adoption by over 92% of Fortune 500 companies.
The tumultuous events surrounding Altman’s brief ousting from OpenAI’s board, followed by reinstatement and subsequent board restructuring, underscore the dynamic nature of the company’s leadership and its broader strategic vision. With notable figures like former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor joining the board, alongside Microsoft’s increased involvement, OpenAI is poised for continued growth and innovation under Altman’s leadership.