20VC: OpenAI’s Sam Altman and Brad Lightcap on The Future of Foundation Models: Will They Be Commoditised | How to Solve the Problem of Compute | Open vs Closed: Which Dominates and Why | Which Companies and Verticals Will Be Steamrolled by OpenAI

Posted on 15th April 2024 by Harry

Sam Altman is the CEO @ OpenAI, the company on a mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. OpenAI is one of the fastest-scaling companies in history with a valuation of $90BN and $2BN+ in revenue. Prior to OpenAI, Sam was the President and CEO @ Y Combinator and made angel investments in the likes of Airbnb, Stripe, Reddit, Pinterest, Asana and more.

Brad Lightcap is the COO @ OpenAI and the man responsible for the incredible scaling of sales, GTM, partnerships and business to today being over $2BN in revenue. Before OpenAI, Brad was an investor at Y Combinator, where he met Sam and before that led finance and operations initiatives at Dropbox.

In Today’s Episode with Sam Altman and Brad Lightcap We Discuss:

1. The Partnership: The Most Powerful Double Act in Tech:

  • How did 25 people rejecting OpenAI’s CFO positions 6 years ago, lead to Brad joining OpenAI before Sam even did? What did he see that the world did not?
  • What does Brad think is Sam’s biggest superpower that the world does not know? What does Sam think it Brad’s biggest superpower that the world does not now?
  • How do decisions get made between Brad and Sam? How do they decide what to delegate vs what not to? What is the most recent disagreement they had? How did they resolve it?

2. The Next 12 Months for OpenAI: Bottlenecks, Compute and Commoditisation:

  • What are the core bottlenecks facing OpenAI in the next 12 months?
  • How does Sam believe we solve the fundamental problem of compute?
  • What is the single biggest barrier to the quality of models improving?
  • What is the end state for the model landscape? Will models become commoditised?

3. OpenAI: The Fastest Scaling Company in History:

  • What has been the secret to how OpenAI has scaled to $2BN in revenue in 24 months?
  • Why does Sam believe that he is “not a great operator”? What drives this thinking?
  • What have been the first things to break in the scaling of OpenAI?
  • What do Brad and Sam know now about the scaling that they wish they had known at the start?
  • Why does OpenAI lean towards hiring more experienced people in the team?

4. How to Invest and Operate in a World of OpenAI:

  • What single question can founders ask that will reveal if they will be steamrolled by OpenAI?
  • Does Sam believe huge numbers of companies will be steamrolled by OpenAI?
  • For investors, is there money to be made investing in the application layer of AI today?
  • What question should all businesses be asking about how to adopt and use AI in their business?

5. Sam Altman: AMA:

  • What have been the single biggest lessons Sam has learned from the founders he has invested in?
  • Which founders has he learned the most from? What did he learn from each?
  • What is Sam most concerned about in the world today? Why what?
  • What unexpected traits or characteristics does Sam most look for in the founders he invests in?
  • Why does Sam say that he is not happy but he is grateful?

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