Will Oklo Make Money Before Sam Altman Cashes Out?

One of the fun things about being a Silicon Valley executive is that there are so many different ways to make money.

Sam Altman, CEO of AI powerhouse OpenAI, also runs a famed startup incubator called Y Combinator. That position afforded him the opportunity in 2013 to meet a new company in the nuclear power business, Oklo, which he invested in. Altman was intrigued by the Oklo’s mission to make a more-efficient nuclear reactor to meet the abundant energy appetite being generated by companies such as OpenAI and their raging use of AI chips, Fast Company reports.

Altman became Chairman of Oklo, and, eight years later, with no revenue yet produced at Oklo, he hit upon another way to make money with the same venture. Altman formed a SPAC, AltC Acquisition, raised half a billion dollars in 2021 and went hunting for something to buy. According to Michael Klein, AltC’s chair, the SPAC searched far and wide for a nuclear power company to buy. “We’ve had the ability to review every nuclear opportunity that has come to market,” he said in a filing last summer.

Altman, however, knew exactly which nuclear company AltC should acquire.

As detailed in a proxy statement last month, Altman had a telephone conversation with Klein in October of 2022, in which he “raised Oklo as a potential target in the nuclear fission industry with which AltC should consider pursuing a business combination.”

Altman recused himself from the boards of both Oklo and AltC while they mulled his suggestion that they merge, a process that included various videoconference calls with the CEO of Oklo, Jacob DeWitte. Amazingly, despite no revenue at Oklo after nearly a decade in operation, and despite a long and winding path ahead to achieve its goals, the company was able to convince Klein and the AltC board that Oklo was worth $750 million to $800 million, a figure Klein and the board felt was justified given the valuation of other companies in the energy field, such as NuScale Power. Read more.

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