OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was seeking funds for a new AI chip company before being fired

Alfonso Maruccia

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The big picture: Nvidia is accumulating a substantial amount of money, primarily due to its potent GPUs for AI acceleration. However, these computing devices are expensive and are facing growing challenges related to chip shortages. Sam Altman attempted to secure funding for a new AI chipmaker before OpenAI terminated his position due to perceived shortcomings in his "candid" communication with the board.

OpenAI's management drama is becoming increasingly intriguing and tumultuous. The company recently terminated Sam Altman, who served as a board member before his appointment as CEO. However, Altman has now been reinstated, accompanied by a new board, and Greg Brockman has returned as OpenAI president.

In the weeks leading up to his termination and subsequent reinstatement, Altman appeared to be actively seeking funds for a new venture centered around "AI chip" development. Insiders have disclosed that Altman aimed to raise billions of dollars from major global investors and even traveled to the Middle East to attract Saudi investment funds for his ambitious plan.

The project, codenamed Tigris, intended to create new Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) specifically designed to efficiently handle substantial volumes of specialized AI workloads. Altman was reportedly proposing a cost-effective alternative to Nvidia's GPUs, which are widely recognized as the most sought-after computing units for accelerating AI algorithms. His plan sought to address the escalating costs associated with running platforms like ChatGPT and other OpenAI services, while also establishing a new supply line to mitigate challenges related to the GPU shortage.

Seeking investment partners outside the US could, of course, become a cause for concern. As former US Treasury Department official Philip Ludvigson explains, "if the foreign investments are passive – for example, don't come with board seats – and stay under 10%, they are less likely to face scrutiny."

Altman would likely have no shortage of funding partners for his new venture now, as major existing investors in OpenAI, such as Microsoft, are ready to pour billions of dollars into whatever the entrepreneur is cooking. According to Brad Lightcap, OpenAI's chief operating officer, the board's decision to fire Altman wasn't related to the AI chip venture or any other "financial, business, safety, or security / privacy" practice by the former/new CEO.

The AI server market is expected to explode in just a few years, with Foxconn predicting a $150 billion business by 2027. Nvidia's revenues are currently skyrocketing, with the GPU company experiencing a net income increase of 1,259 percent compared to last year. In the short term, a low-cost TPU competitor would likely pose no threat to Jensen Huang's company.

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Yeah, my understanding of why Altman was fired is because we was going whole hog on moneymaking side of AI while the board of directors' mission was to keep some checks on the organization with a sort of "do no evil" core statement for their AI products.

Being purchased by MS and now looking at Saudi money means that any "do no evil" pretext OpenAI might have once had is completely gone now.

Let the floodgates open and potentially catastrophic societal change begin!
 
Sounds like he abandoned the "for the good of humanity" mission and went ham on making as much money as possible.

Also chips is the new oil.
 
The new investors will be able to use the AI's to murder journalists, chop them up and export them in bin bags rather than having to get their own hands dirty.
 
From what I've read I'm surprised they have given him this 2nd chance. I certainly hope the SEC and others keep a very close eye on him, he sounds a bit shady ......
 
Yeah, my understanding of why Altman was fired is because we was going whole hog on moneymaking side of AI while the board of directors' mission was to keep some checks on the organization with a sort of "do no evil" core statement for their AI products.

Being purchased by MS and now looking at Saudi money means that any "do no evil" pretext OpenAI might have once had is completely gone now.

Let the floodgates open and potentially catastrophic societal change begin!
Since he has his own crypto scam, err venture, it's not a question anymore.
 
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