Sam Altman teams up with Jony Ive to build AI hardware that won’t look like a phone, or raise $1 billion

According to The Information, the mysterious company co-founded by former Apple chief designer Jony Ive and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is planning to launch an AI hardware and has begun financing negotiations with several heavyweights in the venture capital industry. .

The startup has entered into discussions with Emerson Collective and Thrive Capital, a major investor in OpenAI, whose conversational artificial intelligence technology is expected to be at the core of some of the device's features, according to people familiar with the matter.

One of the people involved in the talks said Ive hopes to raise as much as $1 billion.

It is not yet certain whether OpenAI will hold a part of the company's shares. The news was first reported by The Information last fall, and the possibility seems quite plausible.

It is reported that SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has been communicating with Altman and Ive since the company was founded, but his specific participation is currently unclear.

Laurene Powell Jobs, the founder of Emerson, has a long-standing relationship with both Altman and Ive. Emerson Collective is both a philanthropic organization and a venture capital firm, and its investments include payment service provider Stripe, financial technology company Chime, and human resources software seller Gusto.

Some investors who have yet to engage with the new company caution that backing the company could be difficult for some venture capital firms. Considering the additions of Ive and Altman, the company may offer a higher starting price. However, the company is still in its early stages and has no physical product in an unproven space.

According to people involved in the discussions, the artificial intelligence device to be developed – which is not expected to look similar to a traditional mobile phone – will also add to Altman's many projects outside of OpenAI.

The projects include creating a company dedicated to developing and manufacturing server chips to support artificial intelligence, which could compete with Nvidia. Altman has said privately that OpenAI is likely to take a stake in the company and become a customer.

After Ive left Apple in 2019, he established a design studio called LoveFrom, which also provided services to Apple for a time.

Much remains unknown about Ive's device company and its goals. Entrepreneurs are working to develop new hardware products to integrate with artificial intelligence, trying to easily access chatbots and other applications when users are away from the screen.

These include a pin-on wearable device with a camera, microphone and speaker made by Humane, of which Altman is one of Humane's largest investors, and a device called Rabbit designed to help users access services across apps.

OpenAI and other companies are also developing large language models that can run on PCs, mobile phones and other devices. OpenAI co-founder Andrej Karpathy once likened a large language model to an operating system because of its ability to retrieve files, write code, run programs, and understand audio, images, and human commands.

Large language model developers such as OpenAI, Google, and Meta Platforms are working hard to improve the capabilities of their models in image, painting, and gesture recognition, not just language recognition. The companies hope to integrate the technology into smart glasses and other wearable devices equipped with front-facing cameras.

This could lead to the emergence of voice-activated artificial intelligence assistants similar to those seen in science fiction movies such as "Her." Such assistants aim to be as transformative as smartphones by enabling a range of functions that are not possible today. They can serve as tutors for students as they write essays or solve math problems, or provide assistance when users ask for information about their surroundings, such as translating a sign or providing guidance on how to troubleshoot a car problem.

Additionally, OpenAI recently discussed the possibility of integrating its object recognition software into products from the parent company of Snapchat, which could bring new capabilities to Snap's Spectacles smart glasses.

After The Information initially reported on the Ive-Altman device collaboration, the Financial Times subsequently reported that the pair were in talks with SoftBank to try to raise up to $1 billion in funding and wanted Arm, the publicly traded chip design company controlled by Son, to be part of the project Play an important role.

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