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Elon Musk Starts New Company Amid Talk of AI Venture

A recent corporate filing in Nevada suggests Elon Musk may be serious about taking on artificial-intelligence first-movers like


-backed OpenAI. The billionaire owner of


and Twitter is named as a director in a business-incorporation document filed in March for a new company called X.ai Corp.

Web domains using the “.ai” suffix — formally the “top-level” domain for the country of Anguilla — are popular with tech businesses pursuing artificial intelligence projects. 

Musk’s potential moves to start an artificial intelligence business were reported Friday by the Financial Times, which cited unnamed people familiar with the billionaire’s efforts to assemble a team for the venture and to secure investors.

Musk recently recruited Igor Babuschkin, a scientist at artificial-intelligence lab DeepMind, which is owned by Google-parent


to helm the effort, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday

The Nevada filings also name Jared Birchall, who oversees Musk-owned ventures including tunneling firm The Boring Co. and neurotechnology start-up Neuralink, as a director of the X.ai Corp.

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A business called Xai Inc. was also established in Delaware on March 28, records show. Those records did not identify any officers or directors. 

A message seeking comment from Musk through Tesla’s (ticker: TSLA) investor-relations department yielded no immediate response. Birchall did not respond to a message sent via Neuralink. Babuschkin did not respond to a message sent through social media.

X.ai was registered in Nevada on March 9, about two weeks before Musk’s name appeared as a signatory to an open letter from academics and tech leaders and others calling for a moratorium on artificial-intelligence development. Others signing the letter included


co-founder Steve Wozniak and businessman and politician Andrew Yang. 

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That letter came as potential competitors to a Musk-led artificial-intelligence product debuted services, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Alphabet’s Bard, that some feared could pose societal risks. 

“[R]ecent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one — not even their creators — can understand, predict, or reliably control,” the letter’s authors wrote. 

Musk had helped found OpenAI in 2015 alongside its current chief executive, Sam Altman, but left the company in 2018. 

Efforts to access the X.ai website Saturday yielded a browser error, indicating there is no content currently hosted at the site. 

The website was previously home to an artificial-intelligence-based appointment-scheduling service called “x.ai,” according to archived versions of its website. That business was acquired by New York-based event-management company Bizzabo in 2021.

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Bizzabo chief executive Eran Ben-Shushan told Barron’s that the x.ai scheduling business’s features had been integrated into his service and that a decision had been made to sell its domain name and trademark. He did not respond to a followup message asking about the identity of the buyer and the timing of the sale.

“X” is a recurring company name for Musk: the online bank he founded in 1999 that merged into the company that became PayPal was called X.com and he recently established a business called X Corp. that has since absorbed Twitter. Musk has also cast Twitter as a foundation for a multi-featured app that would be called “X.”

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“X” is also the first name of Musk’s son with the singer Claire Elise Boucher, known as Grimes. Boucher explained on Twitter that it stands for “the unknown variable.”

The child’s middle name “AE A-12” is based, in part, on what Boucher said is an “elven spelling” of AI, for artificial intelligence.

Write to Jacob Adelman at jacob.adelman@barrons.com

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