A lot has been said about ChatGPT recently, and its release has sparked a flurry of responses. Many businesses have rushed to release competing AI bots, and a variety of enthusiasts, from laypeople to journalists, have barraged the chatbot with inquiries and shared their findings online.
And while ChatGPT is a hot topic in the tech world, its founder, Sam Altman, has mostly remained unnoticed.
Altman is a “doomsday” believer who is constantly “survival ready” with a wide range of doomsday gear, according to recent publications characterizing him. Altman revealed to the New Yorker in 2016 that he enjoyed survival skills, flying charter flights over California, and owning five racing cars (including two McLarens and an old Tesla).
“I try not to worry about it too much. But I have firearms, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, Israeli Defense Forces gas masks, and a vast plot of land in Big Sur that I can fly to,” he allegedly claimed.
Interestingly, when questioned about apocalypse preparations, ChatGPT’s advice to users appears to reflect many of Altman’s ideas – albeit with less depth and clarity. Altman is the CEO of OpenAI and the chairman of the boards of two nuclear energy startups, Helion and Oklo.
What his path to success looked like, and what advice he has to offer to new ambitious people, find out by reading below!
Sam Altman, now 37, grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States. When he was eight years old, he learnt how to program and dismantle a Macintosh computer. Altman studied computer science at Stanford for two years before dropping out to work full-time on their mobile app, Loopt, which shared users’ positions with their friends.
Loopt was among the first eight businesses accepted into the Y Combinator startup program. It was in the same category as Reddit, and each firm earned $6,000 per founder.
Loopt eventually achieved a valuation of $175 million, however due to a lack of interest, the founders sold it for $43 million in 2012.
The $43 million sale price was close to the amount obtained from investors. Green Dot, a financial corporation known for its prepaid cards, purchased the company. Nick Sivo, one of Loopt’s co-founders, and Altman were in a relationship for nine years before selling the firm. Altman learned he was homosexual in high school (he attended a private school) after a Christian group boycotted a sexuality-related assembly at his school.
Altman’s current net worth is estimated to be about $2 billion.
After Loopt, Altman launched the startup firm Hydrazine Capital, raising $21 million. This includes a significant amount of the $5 million from Loopt as well as an investment from billionaire entrepreneur and venture investor Peter Thiel. Altman put 75% of that money into startups from Y Combinator and oversaw Reddit’s Series B investment round.
Y Combinator founder Paul Graham appointed Altman as president of the startup accelerator in 2014, at the age of 28.
In the autumn of 2014, Altman conducted a series of talks at Stanford called “How to Start a Startup” as president of YC.
He sought to let more scientific and engineering businesses into each series after becoming president of YC, and he picked a fission and fusion startup for YC because he wanted to build his own nuclear power firm. He put his personal money into both businesses and served on their boards of directors.
“Under Sam’s leadership, YC’s degree of ambition has expanded 10-fold,” remarked Mark Andreessen, co-founder of venture capital company Andreessen Horowitz.
Altman once informed the two YC founders that he enjoyed race cars and had five of them, including two McLarens and an old Tesla. He also stated that he enjoys renting planes and flying them across California.
Altman informed Shypmate’s creators that he was “preparing for survival” and warned of a “deadly synthetic virus,” artificial intelligence attacking humans, or nuclear war.
“I try not to worry about it too much,” Altman explained to the company’s founders in 2016. “But I have firearms, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, Israeli Defense Forces gas masks, and a large plot of land in Big Sur that I can fly to.”
Jack Altman, Altman’s brother, is the co-founder and CEO of Lattice, a staff management platform. In 2020, the Altmans, together with their brother Max, formed Apollo, a fund focused on supporting moonshot enterprises.
“Moonshot” firms are technological ventures that are financially risky yet have the potential to pay off with ground-breaking innovations.
Altman co-founded OpenAI in 2015 with Elon Musk, then CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. Their purpose for the non-profit AI firm was to ensure that AI did not harm humanity.
“We discussed what the greatest thing we could do to ensure the future is bright. We could remain on the sidelines or support governmental supervision, or we could participate with the appropriate structure with people who care profoundly about building AI in a way that is safe and useful for mankind,” Elon Musk told The New York Times in 2015.
Along with Altman and Musk, several of Silicon Valley’s most renowned names have contributed $1 billion to OpenAI, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and German-American billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel.
Altman stepped aside as chairman of YC in March 2019 to devote more time to OpenAI. He kept his role as president of the accelerator. When asked how OpenAI planned to make a profit at the 2019 StrictlyVC event, Altman replied, “the honest answer is we have no idea.” According to Altman, OpenAI “has never earned any income” and has “no present ambitions to generate revenue.”
Altman took over as CEO of OpenAI in May 2019, when it transitioned from a non-profit to a “limited profit” business. “We want to expand our potential to generate cash while still fulfilling our objective, and no existing legal structure that we are aware of achieves the correct balance,” according to the OpenAI blog.
“Our answer is to establish OpenAI LP as a combination of for-profit and non-profit – a ‘limited profit’ firm.” Altman traveled to Seattle to meet with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to show off OpenAI’s artificial intelligence models. Following that, Microsoft invested a billion dollars in OpenAI in 2019.
Microsoft said this month that it is investing “multi-billion dollars” in OpenAI. Although no specifics have been released, Microsoft’s investment is thought to be around $10 billion. Until yesterday, it was unknown (though widely believed) that ChatGPT will be integrated into the Bing search engine.
– Consider your options
“One of the most significant things to learn is how to solve apparently intractable problems. “The more you do it, the more you believe it.” “Fighting is achieved by learning that you can get back up after being struck down,” writes Altman.
– Have faith in yourself
“Self-confidence” is also essential, he believes.
“The most successful individuals I know have a delusory belief in themselves. It’s difficult to have a different vision of the future if you don’t believe in yourself. However, it is where value is produced,” Altman says.
– Learn to concentrate
“It’s far more essential to work on the proper subject than it is to spend enormous hours,” Altman argues.
“Once you know what you need to do, you will be unstoppable in completing a limited number of priorities rapidly. I’ve yet to meet a slow yet successful individual.”
– Put in smart and hard work
“Working smart or hard can lead you to the 90th percentile in your industry, which is a tremendous accomplishment. However, in order to be successful 99 percent of the time, you must work both like a genius and hard – you will be competing with other really brilliant individuals who will have fantastic ideas and be willing to work hard “he says, adding:
“The earlier you do it, the more you will benefit. It’s easier to work hard when you have fewer other commitments, which is often when you’re young, but not always.”
– Strive towards exponential growth
“I’m willing to wait as long as it takes between projects to find the next thing. But I always want it to be a project that, if it succeeds, would make the rest of my career seem insignificant.”
“Most individuals are daunted by the linear possibilities. Be prepared to pass up little possibilities in order to focus on prospective measures that will result in change.”
– Be tenacious
“The key secret is that you can alter the universe to your will—most people don’t even try and simply accept things as they are,” writes Altman.
Earning money will not make you wealthy; but, owning property will
You can own real land, stock in a company, intellectual property, or natural resources. “But in a manner, you have to own stock in something, instead of simply selling your time. “It is measured linearly,” Altman concludes.
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