Elon Musk and Sam Altman share a stage in October 2015, before things got cold. Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
Elon Musk recently started an AI startup to compete against OpenAI, but not long ago he co-founded the now-famous company that makes the AI chatbots ChatGPT and GPT-4 and helped it in significant ways.
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, described Musk’s initial role In good company This week’s podcast.
“Elon was definitely a talent magnet and a magnet for attention, and also some real superpowers that, aside from all that, were very helpful to us in those early days,” Altman told host Nikolai Tangen.
He didn’t give examples of those “superpowers,” but venture capitalist Marc Andreessen recently outlined the psychological traits that make Musk the “prime example” of an entrepreneur who “can’t turn it off.”
This year, Musk expressed displeasure with the direction OpenAI was taking, and in July launched xAI, which he said was “definitely in competition” with Altman’s company. xAI’s lofty goal, in typical Musk style, is to “understand the true nature of the universe.” It has brought in top AI talent from Google, DeepMind, Microsoft and its own Tesla.
Musk left OpenAI’s board of directors in 2018. He was offered to lead the organization, but left after being turned down, according to Semaphore.
One of his beefs today is that he cofounded OpenAI as a nonprofit in 2015, but then switched to a “capped profit” model in 2019—the same year it received a $1 billion investment from Microsoft, which is to follow.
Musk’s displeasure with OpenAI became increasingly apparent earlier this year as the company’s valuation soared after the launch of ChatGPT, an AI chatbot that became one of the fastest-adopting products of all time.
he Tweeted In February: “OpenAI was created as an open source (that’s why I call it “Open” AI), non-profit company to act as a counterweight to Google, but now it’s become a closed source, effectively profit-maximizing. Controlled by the company Microsoft.
While acknowledging that OpenAI has taken an unconventional path in many ways, Altman, like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, opposes this characterization of the partnership with Microsoft. But Musk, in a May interview with CNBC, said, “I worry that Microsoft may have more control over OpenAI than the leadership team realizes.”
He complained in March that OpenAI’s switch from a non-profit model was made after he donated millions.
“I’m still confused as to how a for-profit non-profit that donated ~$100M became a $30B market cap,” he said. Tweeted. “If it’s legal, why isn’t everyone doing it?” Doubts later arose about the actual amount he gave, but it seems clear that he donated millions of dollars to the then-non-profit organization.
Altman’s comments on Musk are mixed. In May, Altman said during a speech in London that it was “incredibly valuable” to “learn from Elon about what it is possible to do, like, do.”
But he said On with Cara Swisher podcast in March, “I mean, he’s a jerk, whatever you want to say about him — he has a style that’s not a style that I want for myself.”