"Jacob Vespers does not exist to our knowledge."

Fake News

Is anything ever normal in the AI industry?

A doozy of a scoop by the newsletter Nongaap Investing and extensively followed up by Business Insider certainly makes us wonder. The gist is that for a period of time in 2023, the person in charge of OpenAI's $175 million startup fund appears to have been completely fake — and OpenAI says the documents filed with the California Secretary of State to put the fake person in charge were "completely fabricated."

Head spinning yet? Us too. OpenAI is almost certainly the hottest startup on the planet right now, and it sounds like someone pulled an extrardinary fast one on it, with unclear goals. And lest you think this is some unimportant position, the person now running the fund is none other than OpenAI's mercurial CEO, Sam Altman.

Clear as Mud

A pair of documents filed about a year ago in 2023 established the seemingly fake person, Jacob Thomas Vespers, as the manager of the fund, and provided an address corresponding to an affordable housing complex in Santa Ana, California that denied any connection to OpenAI.

"Jacob Vespers does not exist to our knowledge," an OpenAI spokesperson told Business Insider, adding that the "document itself is not legitimate."

Another OpenAI spokesperson told Business Insider that the company doesn't know who filed the document, and that the company wasn't made aware of the scheme until a journalist asked about it during the summer of 2023, months after the paperwork had been filed. Knowingly filing a false document with a public office is a felony in California, but the company says it didn't report the document to the authorities at the time.

What does it all mean? It's tough to say. Perhaps it was an unsuccessful attempt at a financial crime. Maybe it was a bizarre prank. Or — bear with us here — maybe the AGI that everybody's so worried about is already online, and quietly trying to seize control itself. Just kidding... right?

More on fake people: Sports Illustrated Published Articles by Fake, AI-Generated Writers

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