Every successful startup I know has at least one person who provides the force of will to make the startup happen. I’d thought a lot about this in the abstract while advising YC startups, but until OpenAI I hadn’t observed up close someone else drive the formation of a startup.
OpenAI wouldn’t have happened without Greg. He commits quickly and fully to things. I organized a group dinner early on to talk about what such an organization might look like, and drove him home afterwards. Greg asked me questions for the first half of the drive back to San Francisco, then declared he was in, and started planning logistics for the rest of the drive.
From then on he was fully in, with an average email response time of about 5 minutes to anything. Elon and I were both busy with day jobs, but Greg kept everything moving forward with imperfect information and a very high-latency connection.
He recruited the founding team. Greg is a world-class recruiter (he plans every detail of interviews, heavily researches candidate’s backgrounds, sends thoughtful and persistent followups, and so on), and I now believe even more strongly that someone on the founding team has to be an amazing recruiter.