Masayoshi Son Seeks $100 Billion for AI Chip Venture to Challenge NVIDIA

Masayoshi Son Seeks $100 Billion for AI Chip Venture to Challenge NVIDIA

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son is exploring raising an enormous $100 billion war chest to fund a new semiconductor company focused on AI chips, according to a Bloomberg report. Internally code-named "Project Izanagi," after the Japanese god of creation, the ambitious undertaking aims to develop cutting-edge AI accelerators that could compete with NVIDIA, the current leader in high-performance chips optimized for AI workloads.

Citing anonymous sources familiar with Son's plans, Bloomberg reports that SoftBank itself may contribute up to $30 billion, with the remaining $70 billion potentially coming from Middle Eastern institutions. This would represent one of the largest private investments in AI technology since the advent of chatbot sensation ChatGPT. It vastly overshadows Microsoft's recent $10+ billion investment into OpenAI, the startup behind ChatGPT.

This news comes on the heels of a separate, similar effort led by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman to raise significant capital to build new chip foundries explicitly for production of advanced GPUs needed to power AI research. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Altman is in discussions with investors like Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund to finance construction of dozens of fabrication facilities that chipmakers would then operate.

For now it seems both efforts represent parallel, competing visions to reshape the AI chip landscape. Altman and Son held talks in the past about multiple AI intitatives, including jointly raising semiconductor manufacturing funds. However, it seems those discussions were not fruitful, leading to today's competing proposals.

Ultimately, both efforts aim to address the current shortage of chips that has hindered developments in AI. Son has allegedly named the project "Izanagi" in part because its initials, AGI, stand for artificial general intelligence. The billionaire has long prognosticated that AGI - machines as smart as humans - will arrive within the next decade and usher in a new era of prosperity.

Bloomberg's sources, however, caution that Project Izanagi remains fluid and could change substantially before any deal is formalized. It's unclear precisely which company or entity would be responsible for developing the AI chip technology meant to compete with NVIDIA.

Exactly what role SoftBank-owned Arm Holdings, a leading designer of mobile device chips, might play also remains to be seen. Bloomberg notes that Arm CEO Rene Haas is advising Son directly on Izanagi in Haas's capacity as a SoftBank board member.

Son has allegedly named the project "IzanAGI" in part because its initials, AGI, stand for artificial general intelligence. The billionaire founder has long prognosticated that AGI - machines as smart as humans - will arrive within the next decade and usher in a new era of prosperity.

Bloomberg's sources, however, caution that Project Izanagi remains fluid and could change substantially before any deal is formalized. It's unclear precisely which company or entity would be responsible for developing the AI chip technology meant to compete with Nvidia.

What role SoftBank-owned Arm Holdings, a leading designer of mobile device chips, might play also remains to be seen. Bloomberg notes that Arm CEO Rene Haas is advising Son directly on Project Izanagi in Haas's capacity as a SoftBank board member. In a recent interview, Haas highlighted Arm's potential in technologies like energy efficiency that could enable future artificial general intelligence.

The launch of Project Izanagi marks a strategic shift for Son and SoftBank, which has dramatically scaled back investments in unprofitable tech startups over the past 18 months. Son appears intent on building an AI semiconductor powerhouse centered around Arm to capitalize on the ongoing AI boom. But with plans still in early stages, it remains to be seen whether his ambitious $100 billion vision will come to fruition.

The success of either or both projects could dramatically alter the semiconductor landscape, potentially ending the current GPU shortage and accelerating the development of artificial general intelligence. However, there are many still challenges to overcome—from securing the necessary funding and governmental approvals to overcoming technical and logistical hurdles associated with scaling up chip production at an unprecedented rate.

Moreover, the geopolitical landscape and concerns around national security and economic dominance in the tech sector add layers of complexity to these ventures. The ambitions of Son and Altman are not just technological or economic but are deeply intertwined with global power dynamics and the future direction of AI development.

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