OpenAI has had a pretty good year. ChatGPT is a household name, and oh yeah, the company has added ~$10B in valuation — so far.
As a result, its 38-year-old co-founder and CEO, Sam Altman, is ascendant in business royalty.
So, what’s his deal?
A St. Louis native and Stanford dropout, Altman’s first startup was Loopt, a phone location-sharing service.
Altman then moved into venture capital. That went quite well for him.
At 28, he led Y Combinator, the famed startup accelerator behind companies like Airbnb, Instacart, Stripe, and Reddit. (He served as Reddit’s CEO for eight days in 2014.)
OpenAI launched in 2015, and it’s been Altman’s full-time focus since 2019, per Insider. Though his portfolio has continued to grow beyond AI:
- His investments include nuclear fusion developer Helion Energy; Elon Musk’s brain-implant startup Neuralink; sports card trading platform Alt; supersonic jet maker Hermeus; and multiple biotech companies.
Altman’s estimated net worth today is ~$500m.
- Altman learned to program and disassemble computers at 8 years old, and credited his Mac — and AOL chatrooms — for helping him survive “growing up gay in the Midwest,” per The New Yorker.
- His mom is a dermatologist. His brother, Jack, is also CEO of a multibillion-dollar company (people management platform Lattice).
- Altman is ready for the End Times: “I have guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, [and] gas masks,” he told The New Yorker in 2016.
But if he has his way, Altman — and everyone else, for that matter — will be around a long time: He has invested $180m in lifespan-extension startup Retro Biosciences.
His goal, per Insider, isn’t immortality but “to give people another 10 years of healthy, vigorous life.”
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