OpenAI, at boosted valuation, in talks to sell existing shares to investors -sources

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows OpenAI logo

By Krystal Hu and Niket Nishant

(Reuters) -OpenAI, the artificial intelligence startup behind ChatGPT, is talking to investors about a possible sale of existing shares at a much higher valuation from a few months ago, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The proposed deal could value Microsoft-backed OpenAI at between $80 billion to $90 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the potential share sale. It would make OpenAI one of the world's most valuable private companies, at a time of surging enthusiasm for AI startups after the launch of ChatGPT last year.

ChatGPT, a chatbot that can generate human-like responses based on user prompts, has helped AI's popularity erupt. The AI space has been hailed as the next frontier for technology and has become the latest buzzword in Silicon Valley.

If finalized, the deal would be the second major secondary share sale by the high-profile San Francisco-based startup, marking a meteoric rise in valuation. Earlier this year, it made a $300 million share sale at a valuation of $30 billion.

SpaceX and other mature startups have done regular private share sales without going public, allowing employees and existing investors to cash in on the rising value of their equity in the company. In a sale of existing shares, no new capital is raised for the company.

OpenAI raised $10 billion in primary funding from Microsoft this year, which it uses to develop new products and fund AI model training.

Several other startups such as Inflection and Anthropic have raised funds from marquee investors in recent months.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

(Reporting by Krystal Hu in San Francisco and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and David Gregorio)