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SoftBank—a Japanese multinational holding company with a $66 billion market capitalization—is hungry for new ways to deploy capital. Following the successful initial public offering (IPO) of UK chip designer ARM, the investment giant is reportedly considering making substantial investments in the AI sector—and OpenAI in particular.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has in fact been actively engaging with artificial intelligence, according to a report by the Financial Times, particularly OpenAI’s renowned ChatGPT. Back in June, Son said in a meeting that he utilizes ChatGPT as a brainstorming tool, a practice that seems to have rekindled his interest in aggressive tech investments.
“I am chatting with ChatGPT everyday,” Son said, admitting to be a heavy user of the chatbot.
The groundwork for a potential collaboration between SoftBank and OpenAI seems to be rooted in the existing rapport between Son and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. The frequent communications between these two industry leaders hint at a promising alliance that could put SoftBank back in the AI game. It would be a redemptive move, considering SoftBank’s decision to sell all its Nvidia shares in 2019, missing the subsequent bull run that would have netted a potential 1,070% return today.
Softbank’s move also aligns with Son’s rejuvenated approach to investments, shifting from a cautious stance to a more proactive role in the tech sector.
The prospective investment in OpenAI holds significant implications for the industry. The generative AI sector is poised for substantial growth, with forecasts indicating a potential surge of over $4.4 trillion in the coming years. OpenAI, backed by an extended partnership with Microsoft, stands as a strong contender in this domain. Its flagship product, ChatGPT, has made a notable impact across sectors, registering unprecedented growth since its inception.
SoftBank’s potential investment certainly validates the growing influence of AI in business. OpenAI is meanwhile working on expanding its GPT-4 model to make it multimodal, and rumors of possible secret development of GPT-5 have started to emerge after the company filed a trademark application for GPT-5 back in July.
ARM and Softbank’s recent moves in the AI scene share a remarkable upward trajectory. The chip company’s IPO, which secured a valuation of $65 billion as reported by Decrypt, has evidently sparked ambitious plans from SoftBank, paving the way for investments that could reshape the AI industry.