OpenAI, the Californian start-up behind the ChatGPT conversational robot and the Dall-E 2 imager, is the subject of growing interest from the tech world, although its financial model has yet to be defined.
After having invested 1 billion dollars in this specialist in artificial intelligence (AI) tools, Microsoft would be about to inject an amount 10 times greater in the scope of a fundraising, revealed the Semafor website.
If the deal goes through, the valuation of OpenAI could then reach the astronomical sum of 29 billion dollars.
Microsoft and OpenAI have not confirmed this information to AFP.
“As ChatGPT is one of the most innovative AI technologies in the industry, Microsoft is clearly aggressive on this front and does not intend to be left behind on a game-changing AI investment,” said Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities.
The computing giant, which does not hide its ambitions in terms of AI, has already integrated the Dall-E 2 in several of its applications. It wants to add ChatGPT to its Bing search engine and thus compete with Google’s, Bloomberg learns.
– Prestigious collaborators –
Since the launch of ChatGPT, at the end of November, the mastery of this chatbot, capable of formulating detailed answers in a few seconds on the most varied subjects, has aroused the curiosity and fascination of Internet users.
Its success is due in part to OpenAI’s smart marketing strategy, points out AI expert Robb Wilson, founder of chatbot development platform OneReach.ai.
“Making this technology available to specialists is one thing,” says Wilson.
“Offering it through a user interface and allowing the general public to play with it was the trigger” for the wave of enthusiasm for this tool, he continues.
Founded in late 2015, OpenAi is run by entrepreneur Sam Altman, 37, former president of startup accelerator Y Combinator.
Since its inception, the company has had the financial backing of prestigious contributors, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, investor Peter Thiel and Elon Musk.
The multibillionaire served on OpenAI’s board of directors until 2018, but left to focus on his responsibilities at Tesla.
The start-up also has a team of computer scientists and researchers led by Ilya Sutskever, a former Google executive specializing in machine learning.
OpenAI, which did not respond to AFP requests, had around 200 employees in 2021, according to a query made directly to ChatGPT.
– Paid version –
While OpenAI promises a lot technologically, the company has yet to find its way to financial stability.
Created as a non-profit association, the start-up became a “limited profit” company in 2019 to attract capital.
During Microsoft’s investment announcement, it also announced its intention to commercialize its technologies.
More recently, one of the co-founders of OpenAI, Greg Brockman, reported that a paid version of ChatGPT was in the works. This will offer advanced features to users, including even faster responses.
The search for financing seems necessary for a company with exorbitant expenses.
In a Twitter exchange with Elon Musk in early December, Sam Altman acknowledged that each ChatGPT conversation costs OpenAI several cents.
According to estimates by Tom Goldstein, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, the company pays $100,000 a day for its chatbot, or about $3 million a month.
Partnering with Microsoft, which provides the startup with its remote computing services, could cut costs.
“It’s not cheap anyway,” Goldstein said.