That startup being run by ChatGPT is still going — but from the outside, it looks like kind of a mess.

To recap: about two weeks ago, self-described "AI soothsayer" Jackson Greathouse Fall took to Twitter to announce that he would be commencing what he described as the #HustleGPT challenge. Basically, Fall would ask ChatGPT to start a business, with only $100 to start. He'd get directions from ChatGPT on how to grow and scale the business, and act as the bot's "human liaison," to follow its bidding.

The project went viral, with AI bros calling it a "god mode" use of ChatGPT, and at first Fall was posting regular updates that gave a sense of momentum. But at this point, he hasn't posted a new update since last Wednesday — so we're starting to wonder what's going on with the project.

For one thing, even when he was still posting updates, progress was sounding iffy. His last update last week, for instance, claimed that the company — a sustainable e-commerce website called Green Gadget Guru that ChatGPT directed him to set up — had generated $130 in revenue. Sure, that would be something, but assuming that Fall was working eight-hour days on the project, it still means that as of that update, he'd been making less than $3 per hour. At that rate, it'd be a long road toward making good for his investors, who he said had contributed around $7,700, nevermind turning a profit.

In theory, a site like Green Gadget Guru could be roaring along by now. ChatGPT basically told Fall to spin Green Gadget Guru up as an affiliate marketing site, meaning it would recommend products and get a small kickback if anyone bought them. That's an extremely well-established niche, and all the tech exists to quickly fire up a new affiliate operation.

At first, it did sound like Fall was making concrete progress. He announced last week that he — sorry, ChatGPT — had hired two humans to help with the business: a content writer tasked with using ChatGPT to generate blog posts for the company website and a graphic designer who would use the text-to-image generator Midjourney to create the site's imagery.

Judging by the status of the Green Gadget Guru site, though, ChatGPT seems to be struggling severely. Frankly, it's a bit wretched. Seriously. Check it out yourself.

For one thing, despite Fall's talk of that human writer producing copy for the site, the only blog posts it's published so far — like this one, "Ten Eco Friendly Kitchen Gadgets" — contain only the "lorem ipsum" text that designers use to test a layout before it has any content. If you think about it, it's also a little strange that ChatGPT told Fall to hire a human writer at all. Why can't ChatGPT write the blogs and copy itself?

Another glaring issue is that there don't seem to be any actual products on the site. There are technically product categories, but for some reason all of them — Electronics, Home & Garden, Office Supplies, Personal Care, and Kitchen — are represented by the same picture of a green t-shirt. But nothing seems to happen when you click on them.

There is a "featured product," which the site lists with the amazingly generic title of "eco-friendly water bottle," but the so-called water bottle is similarly represented by a picture of a green tote bag, and there doesn't seem to be any way to actually buy it. ("It" being either the water bottle or the tote bag.)

Particularly weird is what we can't find on the site: a single affiliate link to any actual product. And that raises a further question: without them, how did the site generate that piddling $130 in revenue that Fall was talking about last week?

Fall didn't address that question when we asked, but he did write us a brief message addressing the status of Green Gadget Guru.

"AI directed website moving at human speed," he said. "Promise y'all will have more updates soon, I know everyone's waiting on the edge of their seats."

He also pointed us to a tweet in which he seemed to acknowledge that progress had been slow.

"I gotta be real with y'all, last week kicked my ass," it read. "I’m still learning how to context-shift multiple times a day and get all my work done."

"More GGG + HustleGPT progress threads tomorrow!!!" he added (no new thread appeared the next day.)

Other netizens, we should note, have their own misgivings about the ChatGPT-run Green Gadget Guru.

"The unfortunate reality is that HustleGPT kinda started as a grift. The guy didn't even fix up the website he took like $7,500 in investments for," tweeted Dave Craige, a #HustleGPT enthusiast and Green Gadget Guru pessimist. "We can turn that around! We can push for a radically better approach to ethics / money. We can do things completely different."

"Where did the revenue come from?" asked another netizen, in response to Fall's final thread about the project last week, wondering like we did: "how did the $130 in revenue come about??"

Are you involved with HustleGPT or the AI startup scene? Reach out:

Of course, starting up a company that actually makes money — especially with only $100 in startup costs — is hard. And it's difficult to believe that very many investors thought that a company run by an experimental chatbot was going to be a watertight financial decision. It's easy to imagine that for most of them, it was like buying a bit of Dogecoin just for the laughs.

Still, the virality of Fall's thread compared to the dubious results does illustrate the reality-clouding hype that's sweeping the AI space right now. In fact, it can kinda reek of web3-like grifting — a type of digital scammery made possible by the frothy, unbridled, and often unfounded hype around a new piece of gold rush tech. (Fall, according to his LinkedIn, was the cofounder of a blockchain company back when that market was red hot.)

It's worth mentioning that AI bros have already been pumping up Fall's work, celebrating the Green Gadget Guru's supposed $130 in revenue and calling it one of the "most incredible things" that's been done with GPT-4 — without addressing any of its glaring and obvious issues. If that's not the hype cycle in action, we don't know what it is.

That said, though, it's probably most likely that Fall just didn't expect his tweet to take off, and now has the unenviable job of watching ChatGPT try to run a company, a task that it doesn't seem quite ready for just yet.

The reality, of course, is that AI tech still has a lot of rough edges, and its business applications are consequentially still hazy. Its work often looks good on the surface, but there are frequently deep issues under the hood that still need to be worked out.

And honestly, who knows. Maybe Green Gadget Guru will become a runaway success with ChatGPT calling the shots. Maybe the chatbot, and Fall doing its bidding, just need a little more time to get it off the ground. We'll be watching.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, you can email Green Gadget Guru at its email address, which is currently listed as Best of luck.

More on HustleGPT: Man Starts Business with Only $100 by Doing What ChatGPT Tells Him

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