Temasek Holdings
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Singapore’s Temasek Holdings is in talks to invest in OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed artificial intelligence (AI) company behind ChatGPT.

Citing two people familiar with the matter, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday (March 5) that senior executives at Temasek have met OpenAI CEO Sam Altman several times over recent months.

The state-owned investment company had initially been interested in investing into Altman’s VC fund Hydrazine Capital, however, more recent talks had included the AI company. The report adds that the talks were preliminary but continuing, with no agreement on the size of any investment.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to Vulcan Post’s requests for comment, while Temasek declined to comment on the report.

The negotiations with Temasek is the first since reports surfaced last month that Altman was seeking to raise about US$5 trillion to US$7 trillion to launch a semiconductor business and reduce OpenAI’s reliance on AI chips made by Nvidia.

“Building massive-scale ai infrastructure, and a resilient supply chain, is crucial to economic competitiveness,” Altman posted on X last month. Despite having its revenue surpass US$2 billion on an annualised basis in December, the company still remains loss-making because of the vast costs of building and running its models.

Altman has also discussed fundraising with deep-pocketed investors in the Middle East and Asia, including Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan, one of Abu Dhabi’s wealthiest and most influential figures, and SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son.

Currently, OpenAI is backed by US$13 billion from Microsoft, its biggest investor, as well as several venture capital groups, including Thrive Capital, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management and Andreessen Horowitz.

In recent months, OpenAI completed a deal allowing employees to sell stakes in the company. The tender offer gave OpenAI a valuation of US$86 billion (or roughly three times what it was worth last April), making it one of the most valuable startups in the world.

Singapore’s AI investment

With a portfolio valued at US$284 billion, AI is currently a key focus for Temasek’s investments, according to the fund’s management.

Its existing investments in the space include UK-based legal technology company Robin AI, South Korean fabless AI chip start-up Rebellions and Silicon Valley-based generative AI chip designer d-Matrix.

Following the AI boom in recent years, AI startups have seen a notable increase in funding, including in Singapore. Across the city-state, the sector witnessed a substantial infusion of funds in 2023, amounting to US$481.21 million across 24 deals.

To advance Singapore’s AI ecosystem further, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Jacqueline Poh, the managing director of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), reportedly met NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang earlier in December to discuss potential “large investments” in AI here.

Singapore has always embraced innovation and its unwavering commitment to technological advancement has solidified its position as a global business and innovation hub, but the journey hasn’t always been smooth-sailing.

During the previous crypto bull run, Singaporean investment firms, including GIC and Temasek, invested in various crypto firms, some of which backfired. With their shift in focus, it is yet to be seen if the current AI boom is merely just a passing trend.

Featured Image Credit: Munshi Ahmed via Bloomberg

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)