The Profile: The King of ChatGPT & the AI Crusader
This edition of The Profile features Sam Altman and, well, more Sam Altman.
Good morning, friends!
For the first time in Profile history, the subject line normally featuring two different profiles is … about the same person.
“The King of ChatGPT” and “the AI crusader” both refer to OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. He got the profile treatment in both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times this weekend.
I’ve written before about my feelings toward ChatGPT, but I recently discovered the correct use for this groundbreaking technology.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the not one, but two profiles of Sam Altman below. And if you’re so inclined, make the time to also check out this profile on Sam from 2016. (When the reporter remarked that Sam never seemed to visit the men’s room, he said, “I will practice going to the bathroom more often so you humans don’t realize that I’m the A.I.”)
THE PROFILE DOSSIER: On Wednesday, premium members received The Profile Dossier, a comprehensive deep-dive on a prominent individual. It featured Danielle Steel, the author who works 20 hours a day. Read it below.
— The king of ChatGPT [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— The AI crusader
— The Salesforce CEO taking the heat
— The NBA star trying to find a balance
— The ‘gay bank’ that set out to disrupt finance
— The community that drives book sales
PEOPLE TO KNOW.
The king of ChatGPT: What on earth has Sam Altman built? Many industry leaders see ChatGPT as a fundamental technological shift, as significant as the creation of the web browser or the iPhone. But few can agree on its future. Some believe it will deliver a utopia where everyone has all the time and money ever needed. Others believe it could destroy humanity. That means OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is criticized from all directions. But those closest to him believe this is as it should be. “If you’re equally upsetting both extreme sides, then you’re doing something right,” said OpenAI President Greg Brockman. (The New York Times, reply to this email if you can’t access the article)
“I try to be upfront. Am I doing something good? Or really bad?”
The AI crusader: Sam Altman is so wary of profit as an incentive in AI development that he has taken no direct financial stake in the business he built — an anomaly in Silicon Valley, where founders of successful startups typically get rich off their equity. “Like most other people, I like watching scores go up,” when it comes to financial gains, he said. “And I just like not having that be any factor at all.” Why? His goal, he says, is to forge a new world order in which machines free people to pursue more creative work. (The Wall Street Journal; reply to this email if you can’t access the article)
“If you’re making AI, it is potentially very good, potentially very terrible.”
The Salesforce CEO taking the heat: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has faced criticism from activist investors and employees in recent months, with complaints around the company's culture after layoffs. “I’m willing to take the bullets and the cuts and the vilification,” he said. “That’s what you have to do as CEO, especially through difficult times.” Salesforce recently beat analyst estimates in its quarterly results, but Benioff still faces pressure to increase profits and put a viable succession plan in place. (FORTUNE; reply to this email if you can’t access the article)
“My performance speaks for itself, and that’s all I can hope for.”
The NBA star trying to find a balance: Celtics star Jaylen Brown is on a quest to find a balance between his basketball career and his desire to make a difference beyond the game. Brown has used his platform to advocate for social change and has partnered with colleges to create a program aimed at closing the educational gap between races. However, his quest has resulted in some public missteps, and he has struggled to reconcile his role as a commodity for the Celtics with his desire to be more than that. (The Ringer)
“I feel like I still have so many more limits to tap individually. To be better, to be a better leader, to be a better player, et cetera.”
COMPANIES TO WATCH.
The ‘gay bank’ that set out to disrupt finance: Daylight, a start-up bank for the LGBTQ+ community, ended in complete disaster. The company's CEO, Rob Curtis, is accused of mismanaging the company, misrepresenting its data and finances, and creating a psychologically unsafe work environment. This profile details a retreat in Mexico where Curtis presented a new vision for the company as a queer "marketplace" expanding beyond banking toward fertility and surrogacy services. Daylight's story is a "what not to do" playbook for progressive start-ups seeking to change the world and make money in the process.
“Let’s get all the gays donating sperm, and all the poor queer women being surrogates.”
The community that drives book sales: BookTok is a community of people on TikTok who focus their content on books. The community is known for its authenticity and emotional connection with its audience, which has helped to sell books and drive growth in the publishing market. However, the rise of BookTok has raised questions about how much of the profits are making their way back to the creators who made the videos that generated the book sales. (Vox)
“BookTok sells books. It’s one of the only things that does.”
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