Jony Ive, the former Chief Design Officer of Apple, and Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, have been exploring the possibility of building an AI hardware device, The Information reported on Tuesday. The report cites two unnamed sources who are familiar with the matter. While the two have engaged in discussions about the AI hardware project, it remains unclear what form the device would take, and it is uncertain whether they will proceed with its development.
The Apple design chief is known for his influential 27-year tenure at the iPhone maker where he worked closely with Steve Jobs, overseeing the design of iconic products like the iPhone, iPad, and iMac. Ive’s work is characterized by a focus on minimalist and elegant design, and he played a pivotal role in shaping the aesthetics and user experience of Apple’s consumer electronics.
In 2019, he left Apple to establish his independent design company, LoveFrom, which dubs itself as a creative collective comprising designers, architects, musicians, filmmakers, writers, engineers, and artists. After his departure from Apple, he and the company signed a consulting agreement valued at over $100 million. However, three years later, in 2022, the two parties decided against renewing it. As part of his agreement with Apple, he was restricted from taking on work that Apple deemed competitive.
According to The Information, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has also been involved in some aspects of the conversations about building an AI hardware device, but it is not clear if he will remain involved. The Japanese billionaire is also exploring investing in OpenAI, according to a different report.
Earlier this year, at a subsidiary’s meeting, SoftBank’s Chairman, Masayoshi Son, revealed that he uses ChatGPT daily and frequently engages in discussions with OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, whom he considers “one of the key people on Earth.”
OpenAI has reportedly started pitching investors recently for a potential secondary sale by its employees that could value the company between $80 billion to $90 billion.