Advertisement

Sam Altman's act may be wearing thin

Sam Altman
JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Hello. Breaking news this morning: Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on Tuesday after it was struck by a large cargo ship. A representative for the Baltimore Fire Department said the collapse is a "developing mass casualty event."

In today's big story, we're looking into how some in Silicon Valley are starting to sour on OpenAI's Sam Altman.

What's on deck:

But first, the tides are turning.


If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.


Alastair Grant/AP; Rebecca Zisser/BI
Alastair Grant/AP; Rebecca Zisser/BI

The big story

Altman's $100 billion ask

They anointed him the startup industry's latest golden child. Now they're turning on him.

Some venture capitalists are growing less impressed with Sam Altman as he reportedly raises a $100 billion funding round for OpenAI, Business Insider's Darius Rafieyan reports.

From hardball tactics when raising funds to relentless self-mythologizing about his role in the future of tech, Altman's act is wearing thin on some.

It's only natural for critics to emerge when a person reaches a certain level of fame. Altman has eclipsed that benchmark, going from a well-known name within tech circles to one of the industry's key players.

Even still, he's mostly avoided controversy except for his ouster-turned-return last fall and an ongoing feud with Elon Musk.

However, his wide-reaching ambitions — a sprawling network of investments focused on helping humanity — have some feeling they are more about self-promotion.

The Altman vibe shift is representative of the fine line founders often need to balance. Investors want to back visionaries whose charisma and determination for their ideas are undeterred, à la Steve Jobs.

But when unchecked, those sought-after executives can quickly spiral out of control and fall out of favor with those who initially backed them.

Criticism of Altman could also be a bit of sour grapes.

Plenty of people owe Altman for kicking off the AI revolution. Young startups raised funding at eye-popping valuations. VCs who got on the trend early secured big wins during a dreadful environment.

But those who didn't move fast enough have been left scrambling. Under pressure from their investors, VCs now struggle to find deals at a viable price point.

Even VCs uninterested in AI deals are quickly becoming servants to Altman's AI empire. The number of startups paying for ChatGPT has exploded over the past year-plus, reports BI's Samantha Stokes.

Analysis from Kruze Consulting found more than 65% of the 800 startups it works with pay OpenAI. The surge shows how generative AI has infiltrated the daily workflow of many tech workers.

The price point for some of these companies isn't high — $20 a month gets you access to ChatGPT Plus — but the importance of embedding a product into a workers' routine can't be understated.


3 things in markets

Jerome Powell
Eric Baradat/Getty Images
  1. The biggest thing stopping rate cuts could be AI. Torsten Slok, the chief economist of Apollo Global Management, pointed to the AI-fueled rally in the stock market as the biggest deterrent to the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates. The result could be a worst-case scenario for the market: no rate cuts in 2024.

  2. Big market, fall hard. The stock market continues to rip, but some experts remain fearful. Veteran economist David Rosenberg, who has a bearish take on things, mapped out steps to hedge your portfolio, like investing in consumer staples, healthcare, and gold.

  3. Bank of America wants to be the art world's favorite bank. BofA negotiates better deals with auction houses on behalf of its clients. The bank's head of art finance Drew Watson told BI how helping sell art, luxury watches, and Birkin bags fits into its grand plan.


3 things in tech

Illustration of blob wearing Apple Vision Pro
Abanti Chowdhury/BI
  1. The Apple Vision Pro represents a scary future. The writer's excitement for the headset quickly vanished over security concerns and the digital isolation it creates. And even if the product ultimately fails, it foreshadows tech trends that are cutting us off from each other.

  2. Tesla and Space X are collaborating on the new Roadster. While Elon Musk was sparse on details about the collaboration, he told Don Lemon that Tesla will justify the hefty price tag with "something that's never existed before." Musk also mentioned that a flying feature wasn't "out of the question."

  3. Mark Zuckerberg is pulling out all the stops to recruit AI talent. The Meta boss has been tapping up AI researchers from Google's DeepMind by sending them personally written emails, The Information reported on Monday. Meta has also been offering jobs to candidates without holding any interviews, per the outlet.


3 things in business

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun is arriving for a meeting with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in the Hart Senate Office Building, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on January 25, 2024,
Dave Calhoun.Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  1. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun is resigning at the end of the year. Calhoun's announcement comes as part of an overhaul of the company's top management — but he insists the decision to leave was 100% his own. The outgoing CEO said the planemaker needs to slow down its production process and put safety before speed.

  2. Wall Street has its eyes on the NFL. The NFL owners are currently in Orlando for their annual meeting where they'll discuss whether institutional investors can buy passive stakes. If owners agree to the rule change, these private-equity firms could benefit.

  3. Adam Neumann is trying to regain control of WeWork. The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Neumann has submitted a bid to buy the bankrupt flexible office provider for more than $500 million, citing people familiar with the matter.


In other news


What's happening today

  • The US Supreme Court will hear a case regarding the FDA approval of mifepristone, which is commonly used in medically induced abortions.

  • Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is set to announce his vice presidential running mate.


The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. George Glover, reporter, in London. Grace Lett, associate editor, in Chicago.

Read the original article on Business Insider