Temasek May Be Circling an OpenAI Investment

Sam Altman may be looking to the Singaporean fund to help him build his own supply of semiconductors.

Photo of OpenAI's Sam Altman
Photo by TechCrunch via CC BY 2.0

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Laugh all you want, Jensen Huang. Your buddy Sam Altman just may get that $7 trillion yet. 

Huang, CEO of high-flying Nvidia, was dismissive when asked about OpenAI’s Altman targeting that eye-grabbing sum for his mother-of-all semiconductor projects. But Sam’s off and running. Temasek, the $287 billion Singapore state-backed investment fund, has held multiple meetings with founder Altman in recent months, according to a Financial Times report on Tuesday.


Building AI infrastructure is expensive — at least Altman, forever embracing the role of a fundraising Silicon Valley founder, seems to think so. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the once briefly ousted CEO had been pitching investors — including the United Arab Emirates government, in particular — on a massive initiative to boost AI infrastructure and increase semiconductor production. The project would require as much as $5 trillion to $7 trillion, Altman reportedly told the potential investors, with a goal of reducing dependence on Nvidia, the fast-growing supernova in the suddenly all-important chip industry.

Altman can afford to think big. In December, Microsoft-backed OpenAI announced annualized revenue of over $2 billion — a level of stratospheric early success seen only by future name-brand companies like Google and Meta. Employees also recently participated in a stock sale that valued the company at $86 billion, more than triple its previous valuation from less than a year prior, Bloomberg reported. It’s no wonder then that Altman is going big-game hunting with an investor class whose pockets run even deeper than Silicon Valley’s A-list venture capitalists:

  • Temasek’s massive portfolio includes Stripe, Tencent, and Alibaba. It also has investments in California-based AI chip designer d-Matrix and South Korean chipmaker Rebellions.
  • In addition to Temasek, Altman has reportedly held recent talks with Nvidia rival TSMC, as well as with Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a powerful figure in the UAE who chairs the $800 billion Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, among other massive state-backed entities.

New York Crimes: Investors don’t seem too worried about OpenAi’s myriad ongoing legal troubles, including a somewhat nebulous lawsuit brought by Elon Musk, who alleges the company is “refining an [artificial general intelligence] to maximize profits for Microsoft, rather than for the benefit of humanity.” The SEC is simultaneously investigating whether Altman misled investors, the WSJ reported last week. The company also is battling The New York Times, which alleges copyright infringement of its published materials to help build the chatbot. Microsoft filed a motion on Tuesday to dismiss the NYT’s lawsuit, likening its complaints to Hollywood fighting against the birth of the VCR in the 1980s. Of course, we don’t remember VCR executives warning that videotapes present a “risk of extinction” to humanity.