Saudi Arabia Plans $40 Billion Push Into Artificial Intelligence

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The Middle Eastern country is creating a gigantic fund to invest in A.I. technology, potentially becoming the largest player in the hot market.

The government of Saudi Arabia plans to create a fund of about $40 billion to invest in artificial intelligence, according to three people briefed on the plans — the latest sign of the gold rush toward a technology that has already begun reshaping how people live and work.

In recent weeks, representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund have discussed a potential partnership with Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms, and other financiers, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. They cautioned that the plans could still change.

The planned tech fund would make Saudi Arabia the world’s largest investor in artificial intelligence. It would also showcase the oil-rich nation’s global business ambitions as well as its efforts to diversify its economy and establish itself as a more influential player in geopolitics. The Middle Eastern nation is pursuing those goals through its sovereign wealth fund, which has assets of more than $900 billion.

Officials from the Saudi fund have discussed the role Andreessen Horowitz — already an active investor in A.I. and whose co-founder Ben Horowitz is friends with the fund’s governor — could play and how such a fund would work, the people said. The $40 billion target would dwarf the typical amounts raised by U.S. venture capital firms and would be eclipsed only by SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that has long been the world’s largest investor in start-ups.

The Saudi tech fund, which is being put together with the help of Wall Street banks, will be the latest potential entrant into a field already awash in cash. The global frenzy around artificial intelligence has pushed up the valuations of private and public companies as bullish investors race to find or build the next Nvidia or OpenAI. The start-up Anthropic, for instance, raised more than $7 billion in one year alone — a flood of money virtually unheard-of in the venture capital world.

The cost of funding A.I. projects is steep. Sam Altman, the chief executive of OpenAI, has reportedly sought a huge sum from the United Arab Emirates government to boost manufacturing of chips needed to power A.I. technology.

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