01.11.2023 Today’s Inspiration and Insights from Sam Altman: OpenAI Co-founder and AI Pioneer
Since the public launch of ChatGPT from OpenAI on November 30, 2022, its co-founder/CEO Sam Altman has become a well-known name overnight. Altman, a 38-year-old who looks to be the age of your peers, bears a classic tech-entrepreneur profile, having dropped out of Stanford after a year, where he’d been studying computer science, in 2005.
What followed were a series of twists and turns that characterize the curiosity, risk-taking nature and confidence of a visionary, with Altman co-founding social-networking service Loopt (2005), which was acquired by fintech/bank holding company Green Dot (2012), and then co-founding VC firm Hydrazine Capital with his brother Jack (also 2012). After becoming a partner at Y Combinator in 2011, Altman was named its President in 2014, taking on an expanded role at YC companies in September 2016. In October 2015, Altman announced YC Continuity, a $700M equity fund investing in YC companies as they matured. He’d also introduced Y Combinator Research a week earlier. From 2019-2020, Altman’s YC role was eventually phased out, to allow him to focus on Open AI, which he and Elon Musk co-founded in 2015. Altman was even the CEO of Reddit for 8 days in 2014! (This paragraph courtesy of Wikipedia).
While the formal creation of OpenAI occurred nearly 8 years ago, on December 11, 2015, a major vote of confidence was Microsoft’s $10B investment in the company this past January. Altman, who both received his first computer and learned to code at the age of 8, has a current net worth of $500M.
It’s not easy being the public face of an admittedly controversial product/service in today’s world, however, and as intelligent and talented as Altman is at attracting the outstanding AI professionals who constitute his team, he well recognizes the impact that AI “gone wrong” may have on humanity and takes active steps to keep that force as positive as possible. Thus, the impetus for co-founding Tools for Humanity (an AI human authenticity product organization) in 2019.
Altman is also eager to share the wisdom of a failed startup, Loopt, which was sold for over $43M, making him a millionaire before turning 30. Impressively, Altman also landed on the Forbes 30 under 30 List. The St. Louis, Missouri native raised by a single mother urges eager young minds to believe in their dreams and not be deterred by those who cannot appreciate their long-term vision: “People always make the mistake of calling an idea small or stupid because they don’t understand how it’s going to evolve.” Staying true to one’s imagination is essential, while belief must be backed up by action, with Altman quoted for the simple wisdom of “Don’t let yourself make excuses for not doing the things you want to do.” Good advice for eager soon-to-be new grads like you!
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