Sam Altman and Jony Ive Raising Funding for Secret AI Device Company

Sam Altman and Jony Ive Raising Funding for Secret AI Device Company
From left: Laurene Powell Jobs, Sam Altman, Jony Ive, Josh Kushner

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and former Apple design chief Jony Ive are seeking significant funding for their mysterious AI device startup. The duo aims to develop a personal AI product that challenges the conventional smartphone experience and explores new interaction modalities with artificial intelligence. The startup, which remains unnamed, is currently in talks with major venture capitalists to secure funding of up to $1 billion, according to The Information.

With the names attached to the project, the company is expectedly attracting a lot of interest from heavyweight investors. Discussions are currently underway with Thrive Capital, an OpenAI investor, and Emerson Collective, a venture capital firm founded by Laurene Powell Jobs. As the funding talks progress, the AI device startup is poised to make a significant impact on the AI industry.

While details about the device remain under wraps, it reportedly will not resemble a traditional smartphone. Other startups are already exploring hardware products that leverage AI for enhanced user experiences, from wearables to voice-enabled assistants. Upcoming products like Humane's Ai pin and rabbit's r1 could offer a hint at a direction the duo is taking. Notably, Altman is an investor in Humane.

Since leaving his role as Apple's design chief in 2019, Ive has kept a low profile in the product development world, although he continued to work for Apple as a consultant through his firm LoveFrom until 2022. Altman's involvement in the project adds to his growing list of ventures beyond OpenAI, including a separate company focused on developing and manufacturing AI chips. OpenAI is expected to own a piece of that company and be a customer of it.

Although it remains unclear whether OpenAI will have any ownership stake in this new venture with Ive, it is highly likely that OpenAI's technologies, including their state-of-the-art GPT models, will power the AI capabilities for the device. This collaboration between Ive and Altman has been in the works for some time, with initial reports of their partnership surfacing last fall. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son was reportedly involved in the early discussions, but his current status in the project remains unclear.

The potential of this device lies not just in the hardware itself but in the reimagining of how we interact with artificial intelligence on a daily basis. The involvement of OpenAI, with its cutting-edge advancements in language models, suggests that the device could offer unprecedented AI capabilities unlike anything we have seen before. With Ive's product design expertise and Altman's vision, we can hopefully get a product that's both innovative and functional.

Chris McKay is the founder and chief editor of Maginative. His thought leadership in AI literacy and strategic AI adoption has been recognized by top academic institutions, media, and global brands.

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