Forbes has added Sam Altman, the creator of OpenAI and CEO behind ChatGPT, to its list of billionaires. In its ranking of wealthy billionaires, Forbes has placed Altman in 2,692nd place. Forbes counted his fortune through public filings and investigative reporting, which includes assets such as Real Estate. The OpenAI company has an estimated worth of around $80 billion, but Altman has insisted that he does not own equity in the company.

As reported by Forbes, Altman earned his wealth primarily through strategic investment in startups, which include companies like the social-media-adjacent Reddit and the payment platform Stripe. Other notable companies that have succeeded under Altman’s support include Airbnb, Asana, Pinterest, and Teespring. More recent investments include ambitious scientific startups, like the nuclear energy company Helion and the longevity-focused Retro Biosciences.

Still, OpenAI remains Altman’s most well-known investment. The company was founded in December 2015 by a group of notable tech enthusiasts that included people like Elon Musk, Trevor Blackwell, Vicki Cheung, and Altman himself. With a billion-dollar starting donation provided largely by Altman, Musk, and a few others, as well as support from institutions like Amazon Web Services, OpenAI had the inspirational goal of advancing AI technology for the collective benefit of the world. First conceived as a nonprofit, OpenAI’s initial ethos revolved around pursuing AI technology without the constraints that come with more profit-motivated foundations.

OpenAI has never officially moved into a for-profit structure, but competition with for-profit competitors may have caused OpenAI to put more emphasis on financial outcomes. OpenAI operates under a hybrid model, with a for-profit arm owned and operated by its not-for-profit core. The goal is to continue to attract investors and also to maintain enough capital to attract top industry talent.

One Forbes contributor points to Altman as the crux on which OpenAI’s profit incentives turn. In November of 2023, Altman was briefly fired as CEO by the OpenAI company board, who cited a lack of “candor” in communications between Altman and board members. Afterward, Microsoft declared it would welcome Altman as well as any other OpenAI staff dismissed by the company, and a majority of OpenAI staff threatened to resign if Altman was not reinstated at OpenAI. Four days after his dismissal, Altman resumed his role as CEO of OpenAI.

This strange series of events has seemed, to many, to be evidence that the OpenAI board has begun to place more emphasis on profit-oriented operations, while the company’s staff remains focused on the foundational goals of technological advancement for its own sake. Altman may represent, to the OpenAI staff, a leader focused on technological outcomes. His insistence that he does not have a stake in the growth of the company—that his early contribution was a donation, not an investment—is central to this point.

Still, this has not stopped Altman from growing his wealth by other means, and his more recent technological ventures into nuclear power and biosciences are NOT donations. No reporting can speak more to Altman’s motivations than his own words, but the growth of his wealth is a reportable fact. Whether for profit or for the benefit of the world, Altman’s investments and leadership have had long-lasting consequences. His place on the Forbes list of billionaires is only one of them.