Sam Altman thinks Silicon Valley has lost its culture of innovation
- OpenAI's Sam Altman thinks Silicon Valley no longer has an innovation culture.
- "Before OpenAI, what was the last really great scientific breakthrough that came out of a Silicon Valley company?" he said on a Wednesday podcast.
OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman took yet another dig at Silicon Valley, saying the technology mecca no longer has an innovation culture.
"There used to be great research that happened in companies in Silicon Valley, Xerox PARC being the obvious example. There have not been for a long time," Altman said on a Wednesday podcast interview with Nicolai Tangen, the CEO of Norwegian sovereign wealth fund Norges Bank Investment.
"I'm surprised you say that there was no innovation culture in Silicon Valley, because that's a bit contrary to what I thought," Tangen shot back.
To this, Altman responded by saying Silicon Valley did have a product innovation culture, but he felt it missed the mark on groundbreaking research.
"I hate to say this, because it sounds so arrogant, before OpenAI, what was the last really great scientific breakthrough that came out of a Silicon Valley company?" he said.
Altman seemed to attribute Silicon Valley's shift away from innovation to the ease and allure of creating "super-valuable companies" in minimal time using existing technology like the internet and mobile phones — which, he said, "sucked up a lot of talent."
This isn't the first time that Altman has taken a dig at Silicon Valley's ability to innovate.
In 2017, when Altman was still the president of startup accelerator Y Combinator, he published a 650-word blog post saying Silicon Valley's culture of political correctness was bad for startups and new ideas.
In the same post, he argued that it was easier to express contentious ideas in China than in California.
And Altman isn't alone in his criticism of Silicon Valley's ability to generate good ideas. Tech figures from Marc Andreessen, a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, to Sequoia Capital partner Matt Miller, have been critical of Silicon Valley's approach to innovation.
Since its launch in 2015, Altman's OpenAI has seen a meteoric rise — the company grew to a valuation of $27 to 29 billion as of April 2023.
Though he co-founded the company, Altman only joined the company full-time as its CEO in 2019, three years before it unveiled ChatGPT to the world.
Sam Altman and OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, sent outside regular business hours.
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