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Following in Altman's Footsteps, SoftBank's Masayoshi Son Joins AI Chip Race to Challenge Nvidia's Dominance

Arm, SoftBank, and Nvidia, The High-Stakes Chess Game of AI Investments

17 February 2024

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Kunal Tyagi

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  • SoftBank's CEO Masayoshi Son aims to raise $100 billion for an AI venture, challenging Nvidia's dominance.

  • $30 billion of SoftBank's own capital will be invested, with an additional $70 billion sought from Middle Eastern investment firms.

  • Recent partnerships and acquisitions, such as with UK chip designer Arm, highlight the strategic moves shaping the future of AI.

In the ever-evolving landscape of generative AI, SoftBank's Founder and CEO, Masayoshi Son, has set his sights on a monumental goal: raising a staggering $100 billion for his AI venture. This ambitious move is poised to challenge the dominance of graphics chip giant Nvidia, signaling a significant shift in the power dynamics of the tech industry. According to reports from Bloomberg, SoftBank plans to inject $30 billion of its own capital into the venture, while seeking an additional $70 billion from investment firms in the Middle East.


This substantial investment is not just a financial maneuver; it represents SoftBank's strategic bid to solidify its position in the AI sector and potentially disrupt Nvidia's stronghold. The proposed AI venture is expected to synergize with the operations of UK chip designer Arm, in which SoftBank holds a commanding 90 percent stake following its IPO. This integration could herald a new era of innovation and competition in AI-driven technologies.


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Recent developments have thrust Arm into the spotlight, with its shares experiencing a surge following Nvidia's revelation of a $147.3 million investment in the company, backed by SoftBank. This strategic partnership underscores the intricate web of alliances shaping the tech industry, where major players are strategically positioning themselves to lead in emerging fields like AI and chip design. SoftBank's journey with Arm, from its acquisition for $32 billion in 2016 to the failed attempt to sell it to Nvidia for $40 billion in 2022, highlights the complexities and challenges inherent in such high-stakes transactions.


Masayoshi Son's ambitious endeavor is not an isolated one. Reports from the Wall Street Journal reveal that Sam Altman, Co-founder and CEO of OpenAI, is also actively pursuing transformative tech initiatives, engaging with investors, including the UAE government, to raise funds for expanding global chip-building capacity. With estimates suggesting a need to raise up to $5 trillion to $7 trillion for this endeavor, it underscores the immense demand for cutting-edge technologies to propel AI research and development forward. Altman's emphasis on the scarcity of high-end GPUs to support OpenAI's objectives mirrors the broader industry's growing appetite for computational power to fuel AI advancements.


As global chip sales surpassed $527 billion last year and are projected to exceed $1 trillion annually by 2030, the race for AI supremacy is poised to intensify further. The convergence of financial muscle, technological prowess, and strategic partnerships underscores the pivotal moment we stand at in the evolution of AI-driven technologies. Whether SoftBank, Nvidia, OpenAI, or other contenders emerge victorious remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the stakes have never been higher in the quest to harness the potential of artificial intelligence.


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