OpenAI, the company behind the popular ChatGPT chatbot, is reportedly in talks with investors to sell existing shares in a tender offer that could value the company at around $29 billion.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, venture-capital firms Thrive Capital and Founders Fund are in discussions to purchase shares from current shareholders such as employees. If the deal goes through, it would roughly double OpenAI’s valuation from a previous tender offer that took place in 2021, when the company was valued at around $14 billion.
OpenAI has generated significant revenue from selling its AI software to developers, but some investors have expressed doubts about the company’s ability to generate meaningful income from the technology.
Current investors include Microsoft, which invested $1 billion in 2019 and is reportedly in advanced talks to increase its investment. Microsoft is also working with OpenAI to incorporate its ChatGPT software into the Bing search engine in an effort to compete with Google in the search industry.
Founded as a non-profit in 2015 with the goal of conducting AI research for the benefit of humanity, OpenAI established a for-profit arm in 2019 in order to raise more capital to pay for the computing power required to train its algorithms. Its original backers include billionaire CEO Elon Musk, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, and former Y Combinator president Sam Altman.
According to Reuters, OpenAI claims to be generating “tens of millions of dollars” in revenue and expects to reach $1 billion in annual revenue by 2024. ChatGPT, which stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, was released by OpenAI in November 2022. The chatbot was developed by optimizing language models for dialogue and is built on top of the GPT-3.5 family of large language models. It has been fine-tuned using both supervised and reinforcement learning techniques.