KT Corp invests USD 23 million in AI chip startup Rebellions

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KT Corp, South Korea’s No.2 mobile carrier, has pumped in USD 23 million in Rebellions Inc – a local artificial intelligence (AI) chip startup. This is KT’s second strategic investment in the field of AI.

It plans to establish a large-scale GPU farm within the year and later integrate its proprietary AI semiconductor developed using hyper-scale AI computing technologies.

Through the deal which was signed on Monday, KT seeks to expand into the field of AI. It intends to make a full-fledged entry into the AI semiconductor field, which is currently dominated by US chipmaker Nvidia Corp, through its partnership with two startups. KT highlighted that Rebellions has made notable strides within the AI chip market for its outstanding competitiveness in designing high-quality custom application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips.

Last month, Rebellions closed on $50 million in funding taking the company’s value to an estimated $283 million. Sunghyun Park, Rebellions CEO and co-founder had claimed that its Series A funding round was oversubscribed in less than three months from financial investors. It raised about $72.8 million in total Series A funding – bringing total funding to about $102.8 million since its inception in 2020. Rebellions are also in talks with potential customers in the financial sector to get its first AI chip ION which was launched in November 2021.

A spokesperson for the company said Rebellions would utilize the funds to mass-produce its second AI chip prototype – ATOM. This chip would be used for large companies in the cloud sector and data centers. KT wants to develop AI chips like neural processing units (NPU) that will be used for data centers, autonomous vehicles, and fintech.

Hyeon-Mo Ku, CEO of KT, believes the AI semiconductor is one of the next big technologies. He hopes that Rebellions, through collaboration with KT, will rise as a global fables company like Nvidia and Qualcomm.

Competition for AI chips has been gaining traction as companies including big tech firms like Nvidia, Intel, Google and Apple develop competing products. Intel, in 2019, acquired Habana Labs – an Israeli startup that develops AI chipmakers for data centers. The global AI chip market is set to reach $194.9 billion by 2030.

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