OpenAI may become the first privately-held company with a $1 trillion valuation, Google China’s former President Kai-Fu Lee. Lee believes that OpenAI could achieve this milestone within two to three years, provided it maintains its current trajectory

In the ever-evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), the prospect of OpenAI, the brainchild of Sam Altman, surging to a trillion-dollar valuation might seem far-fetched at first glance. Yet, according to Kai-Fu Lee, the chairman of Sinovation Ventures, a prominent AI investor, and Google China’s former President such a milestone could be on the horizon.

Lee’s bold prediction comes amidst a backdrop of notable achievements by OpenAI, which was established just eight years ago to rival the likes of Google’s DeepMind. Despite potential challenges and the company’s reported status as a loss-making entity, venture capitalists and private equity investors recently valued it at over $80 billion during its latest fundraising round.

Speaking at the Fortune Innovation Forum in Hong Kong, Lee expressed unwavering confidence in OpenAI’s trajectory, lauding the company’s remarkable execution and foreseeing its ascent to trillion-dollar status. While acknowledging the absence of imminent plans for OpenAI to go public, Lee suggested that it could become the first privately-held company to reach such a valuation.

Pressed for a timeline, Lee estimated that OpenAI could achieve this milestone within two to three years, provided it maintains its current trajectory. However, he cautioned that missteps or competition could alter this trajectory.

At the heart of Lee’s optimism lies OpenAI’s standing as the ‘gold standard’ in AI technology. Despite the emergence of competing models, such as Anthropic’s Claude 3, Lee contends that OpenAI’s GPT-4 retains superiority due to its optimal balance of performance and cost. He emphasized that GPT-4 remains unparalleled even a year after its launch in mid-March the previous year.

However, Lee didn’t shy away from criticism, particularly regarding OpenAI’s decision to halt the publication of its research—a practice still embraced by his company, 01.AI, and others like Hugging Face. Nonetheless, he expressed a strong desire to invest in OpenAI given its groundbreaking advancements in AI technology.

Looking ahead, Lee envisions a seismic shift propelled by AI, surpassing the transformative impact of personal computers, the internet, and even electricity. He believes that the potential tenfold increase in OpenAI’s value would not be out of the ordinary in the grand scheme of AI’s trajectory.

While the notion of OpenAI reaching a trillion-dollar valuation might initially seem improbable, Lee’s forecast underscores the company’s potential to redefine the AI landscape and reshape the future of technology on an unprecedented scale.

(With inputs from agencies)


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