AI Chip Startup Rebellions Is in Talks to Raise $100m

The three-year-old firm is understood to have engaged with investors in Asia and Europe.

Bloomberg News

October 25, 2023

2 Min Read
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(Bloomberg) -- Rebellions Inc. aims to raise about $100 million from global investors to accelerate the development of a next-generation AI chip, banking on growing interest in the hardware needed to run artificial intelligence services.

The South Korean startup is discussing Series B financing that may value the company at more than $500 million, people familiar with the talks said. The three-year-old firm has engaged with firms in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Europe, said the people, who asked to remain unidentified revealing private negotiations. It’s planning to close the round by the end of this year, they added.

Rebellions is one of several fledgling players trying to break into a rapidly growing market for semiconductors that can run AI software, competing against fellow startups from California-based Groq Inc. to Toronto’s Tenstorrent Inc. as well as global leaders such as Nvidia Corp. A representative for Rebellions declined to comment.

Global capital is flowing toward firms from the US to China that are developing advanced AI services, a wave of activity galvanized by the advent of OpenAI’s seminal ChatGPT in November. The Korean startup aims to tap private capital as well as government backing to develop a chip it’s dubbed “Rebel.” 

South Korea has earmarked about 826 billion won ($615 million) to back homegrown AI chip designers through 2030, seeking to build a foundation beyond the memory semiconductors that Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc. now dominate.

Rebellions and its peers design silicon that focuses on specialized tasks such as computer vision and chatbots, while Nvidia workhorses still do the heavy lifting in terms of training large language models. At home, it competes with FuriosaAI, backed by search leader Naver Corp. and the state-run Korea Development Bank. Sapeon Inc., backed by SK Telecom Co. and SK Hynix, is another Korean challenger.

Rebellions’s own backers include KT Corp. – the nation’s top wireless carrier – Korea Development Bank, internet conglomerate Kakao and Singapore’s Pavilion Capital. It’s turning to Samsung to fabricate its chips, taking advantage of its four-nanometer technology.

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