SoftBank looking to invest $100bn in AI chip venture

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Reports from Bloomberg suggest that SoftBank Group Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son is looking to raise up to $100bn for an AI chip venture that aims to compete with Nvidia, the US company that currently dominates the AI chip market.

According to reports the project, which is codenamed Izanagi, will look to supply semiconductors essential for AI and SoftBank would inject $30 billion into the project, with a further $70bn from potential Middle Eastern investors.

SoftBank already holds a 90% stake in the British chip designer Arm, which recently reported strong results that were driven, in part, by developments in AI. SoftBank CFO Yoshimitsu Goto has said that Arm would soon be indispensable to AI and has called the chip designer "the core of the core" of SoftBank's group of companies.

SoftBank has a long history of investing in technology, especially in startups, but has taken a more defensive and conservative approach due to business valuations falling heavily in the aftermath of the pandemic.

The Izanagi project would be a significant move for both SoftBank and Arm and if they were to end up working with Sam Altman’s OpenAI – which is looking at a €5-7trn project of their own to make AI chips – then we could be about to see the beginnings of a possible major realignment in the AI chip market.

Both Altman and Son have history and have discussed joining forces on an IC manufacturing venture in the past.