‘He’s a Megalomaniac’: Some VCs Are Reportedly Fed Up with OpenAI’s Sam Altman

‘He’s a Megalomaniac’: Some VCs Are Reportedly Fed Up with OpenAI’s Sam Altman

There was once a time when Sam Altman, CEO of titanic tech company OpenAI, was the apple of Silicon Valley’s eye. The days when the executive’s reputation was unimpeachable may be waning, however. A new report from Insider suggests that some in the tech and finance communities are less than thrilled with Altman’s messianic antics.

Insider’s report, which quotes numerous anonymous venture capitalists and startup executives, takes place as Altman is allegedly engaged in a $US100 billion funding round. That money will go towards creating artificial general intelligence—or AGI. To the interviewees, many of whom have interacted with or worked alongside Altman, the tech guru’s combination of lofty rhetoric and cult-of-personality has grown tiresome.

“He likes to act altruistic, but I’d rather he just tell me his true intentions,” said one venture capital partner.

“He’s a megalomaniac,” said another. “For the same reason I don’t trust Elon, I just don’t trust somebody whose aspirations are so clearly about themselves.” That same VC also said: “He’s one of the more intellectually dishonest guys in tech…I’ve had plenty of meetings with him where he says things where I’m like, that just cannot possibly be true, but he can kinda get away with it.”

“There’s a fear associated with not being in on what he’s doing,” said an angel investor who knows Altman.

Yet another source interviewed for the story claimed Altman was building “the platform of Sam,” seeming to imply that the OpenAI CEO was more interested in his own reputation than helping humanity, as he’s previously stated.

Still, if all of these VCs felt comfortable talking shit to a reporter about Altman, they were too scared of him—or his influence in the industry—to go on record with their comments. Almost all of the people interviewed for the Insider piece remained anonymous.

One person who did go on the record was Ali Ghodsi, CEO of Databricks, which is ostensibly a corporate rival to OpenAI. Ghodsi said he thought Altman had oversold the technology his company is based around. “If your worldview is that you have AGI and it’s basically superhuman, and these are like the gods, we invented god, yeah then maybe you should turn the whole planet upside down. I don’t think that’s what’s happening,” said Ghodsi.

Gizmodo reached out to OpenAI for comment and will update this story if it responds.

Insider dutifully notes that there could be an element of “sour grapes” here, given that Altman is currently one of the most powerful executives in the world. Of course, this is hardly the first time that someone has talked shit about Altman. In the weeks after the OpenAI “ousting” debacle last year, allegations circulated that Altman was “manipulative,” a liar, and generally a terrible boss. Earlier this month, a New York Times article circulated similar allegations, most of which came from Mira Murati, one of the top executives at OpenAI.

It’s worth pointing out that there’s nothing particularly special about any of these allegations. After all, the world has millions of jerks that roughly fit Altman’s description. That said, not every jerk has the opportunity to pilot an extremely powerful company that is hellbent on reshaping our world through technological disruption. It might be worth paying attention to that kind of jerk.

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