AI Chip Firm Tenstorrent Raises $100 Million From Hyundai, Samsung

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(Reuters) – Tenstorrent, a Canadian startup headed by chip industry veteran Jim Keller that is developing artificial intelligence chips, said on Wednesday it has raised $100 million from Hyundai Motor Group and a Samsung investment fund, among others.

Tenstorrent, which before this funding had already raised $234.5 million was valued at $1 billion, is one of several upstarts looking to challenge Nvidia, the market leader in supplying chips to develop artificial intelligence products like ChatGPT.

Keller, who has previously developed chips for Apple, Tesla and Intel, took over as the startup’s CEO earlier this year.

Tenstorrent said it has raised $30 million from Hyundai and $20 million from Kia, with the remaining $50 million coming from Samsung’s Catalyst Fund and other investors including Fidelity Ventures, Eclipse Ventures, Epiq Capital and Maverick Capital, among others.

The move marks a return to car technology for Tesla veteran Keller. While Tenstorrent is developing chips to challenge Nvidia in data centers, it is also developing AI chips for a range of other uses, including a deal announced in May with LG for chips that could be used in smart televisions.

The funding round was structured as a debt that will later convert to stock, meaning that Tenstorrent will not formally have a new valuation until it holds another round of equity fundraising, which it says it expects to do next year. Tenstorrent declined to comment on details of the convertible debt.

Tenstorrent makes its own AI chips, but also sells its intellectual property and other technology to customers looking to make their own AI chips. Hyundai established a semiconductor development group last year and said that it plans to use Tenstorrent technology in “future Hyundai, Kia and Genesis” vehicles.

“With this investment, the Group expects to develop optimized but differentiated semiconductor technology that will aid future mobilities and strengthen internal capabilities in AI technology development,” Heung-soo Kim, executive vice president and head of the global strategy office at Hyundai Motor Group, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Franicsco; Editing by Marguerita Choy)




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