OpenAI acquires Global Illumination to build up ChatGPT

17 Aug 2023

Image: © Rokas/

OpenAI has acquired the New York-based company to work on ‘our core products including ChatGPT’.

OpenAI has made its first acquisition, snatching up the digital product company Global Illumination for an undisclosed sum.

Global Illumination is an eight-person company based in New York, that uses AI to build creative tools, infrastructure and other products. One of their recent products is Biomes, an open-source sandbox game that bears some artistic similarities to the popular Minecraft game.

The company was founded in 2021 by Thomas Dimson, Taylor Gordon and Joey Flynn, who all previously worked at Meta’s Instagram. Global Illumination claims its team also includes senior contributors from Facebook, YouTube, Google, Riot Games and other companies.

OpenAI said it has acquired the entire team to work on “our core products including ChatGPT”, adding that “we’re very excited for the impact they’ll have here”.

Highs and lows

OpenAI has received a lot of focus in the tech sector this year, with ChatGPT rising quickly thanks to user interaction and the backing of Microsoft, a key investor in the company.

The AI company has been advancing its technology since then, publicly releasing GPT-4 last month for all existing paying developers. GPT-4 is the latest AI model by the company. It was first released in March, when OpenAI claimed it was the company’s most reliable AI system to date. The large language model can accept both text and image inputs and is able to “solve difficult problems with greater accuracy”.

The company also made the APIs for GPT-3.5 Turbo, DALL-E and Whisper – its open-source speech-recognition system – generally available to developers.

But the company’s success has also drawn the attention of regulators and concerned groups, who have raised issue with certain parts of its AI technology.

Last month, the San Francisco start-up faced lawsuits from several authors due to copyright infringement allegations. The US Federal Trade Commission also opened an in-depth investigation into the Sam Altman-led company last month, to determine how it addresses risks to consumers through AI.

OpenAI also faces stiff competition from the likes of Anthropic’s Claude 2, Google’s Bard and, most recently, Elon Musk’s xAI.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic