The newspaper refers to discussions with "investors", based on a valuation three times higher than that mentioned earlier this year. OpenAI, in which Microsoft holds a 49% stake, expects sales to top the billion-dollar mark this year, rising to several billion dollars by next year. This illustrates the craze surrounding AI, which is prompting the major digital groups to develop their own technologies. This is the case for Google, which was behind the OpenAI project, and Meta Platforms.
Existing shares, for the moment
According to the WSJ, OpenAI could sell a few hundred million dollars' worth of existing shares to Silicon Valley investors, drawing on shares held by the original shareholders, often employees of the company itself. A number of funds are also involved, including Sequoia Capital and Khosla Ventures.
This operation could be a trial run for a more extensive share placement involving the issue of new shares to finance development. Until now, Microsoft has been the main source of funding.
Microsoft will remain a minority shareholder
Originally, OpenAI was a non-profit organization. But its articles of association have changed since 2015 to enable it to move from a research organization to an entity capable of raising funds. Not everyone was happy with this change, however, as several of the scientists who were part of the early adventure have gone on to found Anthropic, the company in which Amazon has just injected $4billion.
Microsoft is unlikely to be able to take control of the company through fund-raising, if the news of recent months is to be believed. At the end of 2022, OpenAI founder Sam Altman ruled out the possibility of an IPO.