OpenAI, behind ChatGPT, valued at $90 billion

Published on Sep 27, 2023 at 11:31 a.m.Updated September 27, 2023 at 11:40 a.m.

90 billion dollars! OpenAI’s estimated valuation is enough to make one dizzy, while the Californian company launched ChatGPT less than a year ago

According to the “Wall Street Journal” , the San Francisco start-up behind the sensational conversational robot is reportedly considering selling shares, in a deal that would value it at $80 to $90 billion. This would make OpenAI “one of the global start-ups with the highest valuation behind Elon Musk’s SpaceX or ByteDance, owner of TikTok,” notes the American daily.

This is approximately three more than at the start of the year when the company was estimated at $29 billion . At that time, the valuation of this structure founded in 2015 by Sam Altman, Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and other entrepreneurs (via an initial investment of one billion dollars) had already doubled in two years. And this even though it had posted a loss of more than $500 million in 2022, according to “The Information” .

One billion turnover in 2023

According to the “WSJ”, OpenAI indicated that it expected a billion dollars in turnover this year and “several billions” in 2024. “A valuation of 90 billion represents almost 100 times the estimated revenues, so that most software companies like Dault Systèmes and tech giants like Google, Microsoft trade on multiples of between 6 and 12 times the estimated revenues for 2023,” comments Jacques-Aurélien Marcireau, co-director of the equity management at Edmond de Rothschild AM. We are talking about a tripling of the value in the space of less than a year, this is unheard of for an unlisted company, in these amounts, to my knowledge.”

In a few months, the Californian company has launched several products, including a paid version and recently implemented a feature for conversing by voice, launched a new, much more powerful image generator (DALL-E3) integrated into the conversational robot.

Microsoft has invested 10 billion dollars in OpenAI. According to the “WSJ”, the American giant owns 49% of the start-up.

The operation would take the form of a sale of existing shares (and not a capital increase), even if the market expects that the company will have to raise funds. In the past, venture capital companies like Sequoia Capital or Khosla Venture had participated in funding rounds. The “WSJ” also evokes an interest by Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank.

Lots of questions about valuation

However, valuation raises many questions. “I don’t know if an operation could be done at that price, especially for a sale of shares. Especially since there is no deal behind it. For comparison, when Amazon invests 4 billion in Anthropic, it is in exchange that the latter uses the Amazon cloud,” judges Jacques-Aurélien Marcireau.

For him, the estimated valuation looks like tech bubble from the early 2000s. “Do we value the number of users more than financial data? “.

And, especially since the blow has fallen a little on the ChatGPT madness. The breakthrough of the conversational robot surprised by attracting some 100 million followers in record time. But after having exceeded the milestone of 200 million users in the spring, it has fallen a little, according to figures from Similarweb for “Les Echos”. And there are many questions about the regulations.

In addition, and above all, ChatGPT faces growing competition, particularly in open source. Almost every week, tech giants announce new tools equipped with AI or significant investments: huge check from Amazon in Anthopic, preparation of a tool as powerful as those of OpenAI at Meta, introduction of AI in Amazon’s Alexia voice istant imminent launch of the highly anticipated Gemini from Google etc. And this is without counting the myriad of young shoots who are working on this subject. Thus, if the GPT-4 version is currently the most advanced model according to specialists, it could no longer be the rising “star” of AI in the future.

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