OpenAI resorts to capitalism

OpenAI has a mission to ensure that artificial intelligence “benefits all humanity.” They were founded in 2015, are based in San Francisco, and employ around 100 people doing AI research on safety, policy, and general capabilities. They’ve had a number of high-profile splashes in the capability space. They were also a non-profit until Monday, operating on an initial $1B gift by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and others.

Turns out AI research requires a lot of computers, computers cost money, and the charity of wealthy and interested tech founders is not unlimited. So for-profit it goes. But “capped” for-profit.

In a blog post, OpenAI announced the transition from a non-profit to a “capped” for-profit in which investors in the initial round will receive no more than 100x returns. That’s a pretty good return so here’s hoping they raise a lot of money. It’s an important mission, but hard to do on a non-profit basis apparently.