Saudi Arabia plans $40B AI investment fund overseen by a16z: Report

    2024.03.20 | exchangesranking | 120onlookers

    The Saudi Arabian government is reportedly mulling the creation of a $40 billion investment fund to pour money into artificial intelligence, which could take place in the second half of the year.

    Representatives behind Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund are also considering a partnership with Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) to oversee the AI investments, The New York Times reported on March 19 citing three people familiar with the matter.

    Other venture capitalists may also participate in the AI fund and the a16z partnership could see it setting up an office in the country’s capital, Riyadh.

    One of a16z’s founders, Ben Horowitz, is friends with the fund’s governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Times reported.

    If the $40 billion investment goes ahead, it would make Saudi Arabia the largest investor in the AI space. Two of the three people familiar cited by the Times predicted the fund could be launched in the second half of 2024, but the plans could still change.

    List of the large language model providers that have received investments from a16z. Source: a16z

    For comparison, Microsoft has poured $13 billion into ChatGPT creator OpenAI over several investments — less than half the size of Saudi Arabia’s proposed fund.

    Saudi Arabia’s AI fund would be sourced through the Kingdom’s $900 billion sovereign wealth fund and it’s looking to invest in chip makers and large data centers that have the capacity to power AI technology.

    It has even considered starting its own AI companies.

    Related: Saudi Arabia launches ‘cultural’ metaverse to celebrate founding day

    Discussions of a potential partnership between Saudi Arabia and a16z have been in the works since at least April 2023.

    Horowitz praised Saudi Arabia as a “startup country” in an April 2023 interview with former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann while suggesting the United States is starting to lose traction in the startup scene.

    U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order for new AI safety standards last October, which received commitments from 15 leading AI firms.

    One of the recently implemented measures includes using the Defense Production Act to urge AI firms to report “vital information,” including AI safety test results, to the Department of Commerce.

    It comes as OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman last month sought $7 trillion from Saudi Arabia’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, to build more advanced semiconductor chips.

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