Former Apple designer Jony Ive in talks with OpenAI

OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, and former Apple designer Jony Ive are reportedly in advanced discussions with SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son to secure funding exceeding $1 billion for the development of what has been dubbed the “iPhone of artificial intelligence,” according to a report by the Financial Times on Thursday. The report notes that LoveFrom, Ive’s company, has been engaged by OpenAI to work on the first consumer device for ChatGPT. While these discussions are characterized as “serious,” no formal agreement has been reached, and the official announcement of the venture might take several months.

Jony Ive

Sam Altman, the Chief of OpenAI, reportedly engaged LoveFrom, the company founded by Jony Ive after leaving Apple in 2019, to develop the inaugural consumer device for the creator of ChatGPT, according to information from three sources familiar with the plan.

Altman and Ive are said to have conducted brainstorming sessions at Ive’s San Francisco studio to conceptualize a novel consumer product centered around OpenAI’s technology. The objective is to craft a user experience that is more natural and intuitive for interacting with AI, mirroring the transformative impact the iPhone had on the mass-market potential of the mobile internet. While the process of pinpointing a specific design or device is still in the early stages with various ideas under consideration, the aspiration is to emulate the groundbreaking influence that the iPhone had on the tech industry. Masayoshi Son, the founder and CEO of SoftBank, has also been involved in discussions, advocating for a substantial role for Arm, the chip designer in which SoftBank holds a 90% stake. Additionally, Son has proposed financial support as part of these ongoing talks.

Son, Altman, and Ive are said to have engaged in discussions about the potential creation of a company that would harness talent and technology from their respective groups, with SoftBank considering an investment exceeding $1 billion in this venture, according to sources

The creation of a new company that would leverage talent and technology from OpenAI, LoveFrom, and SoftBank is part of the ongoing talks, as mentioned in the report. Sam Altman, OpenAI’s chief, along with Ive and Son, has been involved in these discussions. Earlier in the week, The Information initially reported that Ive and Altman had been exploring the development of a new AI hardware device, with SoftBank’s Son also participating in certain aspects of the conversations. Jony Ive’s notable career at Apple spans over two decades, during which he played a pivotal role in designing iconic products like the iMacs and the iPhone, contributing significantly to Apple’s resurgence in the late 1990s and its subsequent success.