OpenAI CEO won’t take it public for now: investors might not like “strange” decisions

Sam Altman, the chief executive of Chat GPT creator OpenAI, isn’t planning to take the company public anytime soon. He believes it would limit his freedom to make bold decisions.

According to Bloomberg, Altman said at an event in Abu Dhabi that he wanted to maintain full control over the massively popular AI chatbot-based technology as it becomes more powerful.

“When we develop superintelligence, we’re likely to make some decisions that public market investors would view very strangely,” Altman said. “I like being non-conflicted, and I think the chance that we have to make a very strange decision someday is non-trivial.”

In other words, Altman wants full autonomy from OpenAI shareholders. He didn’t actually clarify what a “very strange decision” would look like. However, probably because AI use is still in the early stages and thus quite controversial, he also mentioned that he didn’t want to be “sued by public market, Wall Street, etc.”

Altman is currently engaged in a world tour across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East where he’s discussing the possibilities to reduce AI’s potential harm to society and regulate the technology effectively.

Lawmakers and officials in various countries and organizations are beginning to create rules that govern AI technologies.

For instance, the European Parliament is currently in the process of drafting its first set of rules to govern the technology in an effort to tame the rapid growth of AI in accordance with Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules.

In April, the European Data Protection Board, the umbrella body of all EU privacy watchdog groups, created a ChatGPT task force to keep the AI chatbot – and any of its AI successors – in check.

Altman has already said that the upcoming AI regulations in the EU could force OpenAI to leave Europe altogether. He soon reverted the threat and actually called for more regulation in Washington, adding that his greatest fear was that the tech would cause significant harm.

OpenAI was started as a non-profit but now operates as a “capped-profit” company. This type of business model allows the firm to raise external funds but return all residual value created above the cap to the nonprofit “for the benefit of humanity.”

The company is valued at nearly $30 billion, and the ChatGPT user count reached 173 million users in April. OpenAI’s website saw its traffic soar in March towards the coveted billion mark for unique monthly visitors, research by web trawler Veza Digital also found.