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Altman's Oklo Plunges 54% in NYSE Debut

Sam Altman, known for his role at OpenAI, has taken on the position of chairman at a public company, but it's not OpenAI
May 13, 2024

Sam Altman, known for his association with OpenAI, has taken on the role of chairman in a public company, but it’s not OpenAI.

On Friday, Oklo, an advanced nuclear fission company, started trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Founded and led by Altman, Oklo went public through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called AltC Acquisition Corp.

Although Oklo has yet to generate any revenue, it received approximately $306 million in gross proceeds from the transaction. However, shares plummeted 54% on Friday to $8.45, valuing the company at about $364 million.

Oklo's business model focuses on commercializing nuclear fission, aiming to use mini nuclear reactors housed in A-frame structures instead of conventional reactors. The company plans to sell energy to end users such as the U.S. Air Force and major tech companies.

Currently, Oklo is working on building its first small-scale reactor in Idaho, which could potentially power the data centers needed by companies like OpenAI.

Altman, co-founder and CEO of OpenAI, views nuclear energy as a viable solution to the growing demand for AI and its power needs without relying on fossil fuels. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have also invested in nuclear plants in recent years.

In an interview with CNBC in 2023, Altman emphasized, “I don’t see a way for us to get there without nuclear.”

Oklo CEO Jacob DeWitte confirmed to CNBC that the company has yet to generate revenue and has no nuclear plants deployed at the moment. The company is targeting 2027 for its first plant to come online.

While going the SPAC route is risky, DeWitte sees promise in the nuclear and AI sectors, despite the recent decline in SPAC market performance.

Altman's involvement with Oklo dates back to his tenure as president of the startup incubator Y Combinator. He invested in Oklo in 2015 and became chairman.

Apart from Oklo, Altman has invested in other nuclear energy projects, including clean energy firm Helion, which is working on nuclear fusion.

Altman’s interest in infrastructure that could support large-scale AI growth extends beyond nuclear energy. He has also invested in chip endeavors, seeking to compete with Nvidia with a chip venture codenamed “Tigris.”

Despite Altman’s vast interests and investments, he did not respond to requests for comment.

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