The Secret History Of Elon Musk, Sam Altman, And OpenAI

Altman and OpenAI’s other founders rejected Musk’s proposal to take control of OpenAI and run it himself, which is the secret history behind Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and OpenAI.

After three years, Elon Musk was ready to give up on the artificial intelligence research firm he helped found, OpenAI.

The nonprofit had launched in 2015 to great fanfare with backing from billionaire tech luminaries like Musk and Reid Hoffman, who had as a group pledged $1 billion. It had lured some of the top minds in the field to leave big tech companies and academia.

But in early 2018, Musk told Sam Altman, another OpenAI founder, that he believed the venture had fallen fatally behind Google, people familiar with the matter said.

And Musk proposed a possible solution: He would take control of OpenAI and run it himself.

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Altman and OpenAI’s other founders rejected Musk’s proposal. Musk, in turn, walked away from the company — and reneged on a massive planned donation. The fallout from that conflict, culminating in the announcement of Musk’s departure on Feb 20, 2018, would shape the industry that’s changing the world, and the company at the heart of it.

The conflict would also create a public rift between the two most important players in technology today, Musk and Altman. Semafor spoke to eight people familiar with the inside story, and is revealing the details here for the first time.

But in 2018, there was no reason to think that either the impulsive Musk or quirky, quiet Altman would become so central to the Silicon Valley narrative, even if they were already among its most prominent names. Musk, for one, had other headaches. Tesla was struggling to keep up with production goals of its Model 3 sedan and the stock was tanking, threatening the company’s future.

Greg Brockman, an OpenAI co-founder who was chief technology officer at that time, also opposed Musk’s takeover as did others at OpenAI. A power struggle ensued, according to people familiar with the matter.

Worldcoin, a crypto project co-founded by OpenAI CEO Altman, is planning to release a World ID verification programme using eye-scanning to replace passwords.

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