OpenAI’s Sam Altman seeks $7 trillion for new AI chips — what it means for you

Sam Altman
(Image credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

The CEO of OpenAI — the company behind ChatGPT — is in talks to raise trillions of dollars as part of a broader initiative to rally the world around the idea of ensuring AI’s future.

Sam Altman wants to raise between $5 trillion and $7 trillion from investors that would scale the world’s AI chip building capacity and create a more resilient supply chain for AI infrastructure, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Altman has apparently held talks with the government in the United Arab Emirates, among others, to raise the sum, according to the report.

Neither OpenAI nor Altman confirmed the report, but just prior to the Journal’s story publishing, Altman took to X, where he seemed to pitch the idea of building out AI infrastructure to limit the possibility of a costly and potentially damaging bottleneck in AI innovation.

“The world needs more ai infrastructure--fab capacity, energy, datacenters, etc--than people are currently planning to build,” Altman wrote on X. “Building massive-scale AI infrastructure, and a resilient supply chain, is crucial to economic competitiveness.”

As the head of OpenAI, arguably the most important AI company in the world, Altman finds himself at the center of the broader artificial intelligence push. Like many pro-AI experts, he's argued that the pace of innovation is too slow in the marketplace, and it’s crucial that the world rally together to ensure infrastructure is in place to facilitate what is expected to be warp-speed growth in the AI industry.

However, raising trillions of dollars to get the job done is by no means an easy feat. As the Journal reported, the entirety of the global semiconductor industry won’t reach $1 trillion in annualized sales until 2030. And just last year, less than $1.5 trillion in debt was issued to corporations of any industry.

If Altman were to succeed in raising such a sum of cash, it would mark a monumental achievement in amassing capital. It would also likely require the help of governments, corporations, and potentially not-for-profits around the globe. Most importantly, it would signal to the world that we’re all in on AI.

Still, it’s no secret that the world will need to significantly scale its chip-building capacity to allow for the rapid AI revolution to reach its full potential. But whether Altman is the right person for the job may also be up for debate.

Just this past November, Altman’s board fired him as CEO, causing a stir both within OpenAI and across the tech landscape. Within days, after help from OpenAI investor Microsoft and a legion of OpenAI employees who threatened to quit following his ouster, Altman found himself firmly back in charge of OpenAI.

And now, with this latest news, Altman clearly feels confident and secure enough in his position at OpenAI and more broadly in the AI space to work on what may be the most ambitious and, if successful, most earth-shattering investment round of all time.

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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.