SoftBank Seeks AI Deals After Successful Arm Listing

SoftBank reportedly wants to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) after successfully taking tech company Arm public.

Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of the Japanese conglomerate, is interested in investing tens of billions of dollars in AI firms — OpenAI among them — the Financial Times (FT) reported Saturday (Sept. 16), citing sources familiar with Son’s thinking.

The sources said SoftBank could also form a strategic partnership with OpenAI, while also considering investments in that company’s rivals. 

According to the report, analysts believe Softbank’s war chest is set to rise to as much as $65 billion following Arm’s initial public offering (IPO) last week, which raised nearly $5 billion.

PYMNTS has contacted SoftBank for comment but has not yet gotten a reply.

The FT noted that Son had described himself as a “heavy user” of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and has cultivated a relationship with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Son has called Altman “one of the key people on Earth” and said the two talk nearly every day.

As PYMNTS wrote last week following the company’s IPO, Arm designs the circuits for the chips found in more than 99% of the world’s smartphones. 

Arm doesn’t make any silicon chips itself, but focuses on providing “design blueprints and licenses for high-performing, power-efficient processors used in products that run on batteries and need to use as little power as possible,” the report said. “The company’s circuit designs have been essential to the growth of the mobile device marketplace.”

The British firm also designs parts of the chips that power Apple computers, Amazon data centers, and an increasing number of the world’s automobiles. 

“We are celebrating our re-entrance into the public markets, and our next phase in building the future of computing,” said Rene Haas, CEO of Arm, in a statement.

Technological advances have helped make Arm a key player in the tech ecosystem, PYMNTS wrote, with its robust public debut showing how investors are banking on AI as a growth engine for the larger economy.

“That’s because, after being first taken private by SoftBank in 2016, Arm pivoted from designing general-purpose CPUs for smartphones and consumer devices to designing purpose-built CPUs for specific markets — meaning that the firm’s growth is no longer solely defined by the cycles of the smartphone market,” PYMNTS wrote.

As PYMNTS Intelligence finds, generative AI can place the knowledge once held by just a few experts into the hands of every person who needs it.

“Decades ago, the internet promised to bring the world into every home and office,” PYMTS wrote. “Generative AI promises to harness the deluge of information that lives online and turn it into tangible, potentially life-changing solutions.”

Image by: SoftBank

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