Sam Altman feels that Silicon Valley has lost its culture of innovation
- OpenAI’s Sam Altman believes that Silicon Valley no longer has a culture of innovation.
- “Before OpenAI, what was the last really great scientific achievement of a Silicon Valley company?” he said on a podcast Wednesday.
- He feels Silicon Valley’s rush for quick returns has shifted focus away from groundbreaking research.
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, did another search in Silicon Valley, saying that the tech mecca no longer has a culture of innovation.
“There’s been great research done at companies in Silicon Valley, and Xerox PARC is a clear example of that. It hasn’t been for a long time,” Altman said in a podcast interview Wednesday with Nikolai Tangen, CEO of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund. Norges Investment Bank.
“I’m surprised you said there’s no culture of innovation in Silicon Valley, because that’s a little bit counterintuitive to what I thought,” Tangen replied.
Altmann responded by saying that Silicon Valley had a culture of product innovation, but he felt it missed the mark on groundbreaking research.
“I hate to say this, because it sounds so smug, before OpenAI, what was the last really great scientific breakthrough that came out of a company in Silicon Valley?” He said.
Altman seems to attribute Silicon Valley’s shift away from innovation to the ease and attractiveness of creating “great value companies” in the shortest possible time using existing technology such as the internet and mobile phones – which, he said, “suck a lot of talent”.
This isn’t the first time Altman has looked at Silicon Valley’s ability to innovate.
In 2017, when he was still head of startup accelerator Y Combinator, he published a 650-word blog post arguing that the culture of political correctness in Silicon Valley was bad for startups and new ideas.
In the same post, he said that it is easier to express controversial ideas in China than in California.
And Altman isn’t the only one criticizing Silicon Valley’s ability to generate good ideas. Tech figures from Marc Andreessen, partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, to Matt Miller, partner at Sequoia Capital, have criticized Silicon Valley’s approach to innovation.
Since its launch in 2015, Altman’s OpenAI has seen a rapid rise, growing the company’s value to $27 to $29 billion as of April 2023.
Although he co-founded the company, Altman joined the company full-time as its CEO in 2019, three years before ChatGPT was unveiled to the world.
In addition to his involvement in OpenAI, Altman also co-founded eye-scanning startup Worldcoin and is the lead investor in startup Retro Biosciences.
Sam Altman and OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, which was submitted outside of normal business hours.
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