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SoftBank Explores AI Deals, Eyes OpenAI After Arm Listing

Photo by Growtika / Unsplash

Tokyo, Japan - Following the listing of its investment in ARM (NASDAQ: ARM), Softbank (TYO: 9984) is looking closely at potential investments in artificial intelligence (AI), with OpenAI a prime candidate, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Why it matters

SoftBank Group has been in "defense mode" since May 2022 due to various macroeconomic environments.

SoftBank's proactive investment strategy states that "defense mode" will change to "offense mode" starting in June 2023.

The Key Points

  • Masayoshi Son, SoftBank's CEO, has a vision to invest tens of billions in AI, a plan from insiders familiar with his strategic insights.
  • Son revealed in June his intention to put his tech investment conglomerate in "offensive mode," driven by the rapid advancement of AI.
  • Beyond direct investments, SoftBank is considering a broad partnership with OpenAI, best known for creating ChatGPT.
  • Son, who shows a distinct enthusiasm for AI, often engages with ChatGPT, a chatbot from Microsoft-affiliated OpenAI.
  • In addition to OpenAI, SoftBank is exploring other AI opportunities, such as an initial intent to procure Graphcore, a UK-based AI chip maker.

The Big Picture

SoftBank celebrated a $54.5 billion valuation milestone with the U.S. IPO of its Arm unit.

This is a significant increase from its private acquisition's $32 billion valuation seven years earlier.

There was a temporary setback in August when SoftBank announced an unexpected loss.

However, the conglomerate appears poised for a resurgence, signaling interest in new ventures after its Vision Fund returned to profitability after six consecutive quarters of losses.