- Shear is the new CEO of OpenAI after his predecessor Sam Altman was fired
- His history of posts on X has some wondering if OpenAI did due diligence
- Many posts concern sex and rape fantasies, as well as the value of Nazis
Shear has come in as the interim chief-exec putting murmurs of a return for Altman to bed, after concerns arose that the latter had been ignoring the potential dangers of artificial intelligence.
However, Shear’s history of posts on X, formerly Twitter, has some wondering if OpenAI did their due diligence, as Microsoft swept in to hire the 38-year-old Altman.
‘The Nazis were very evil, but I’d rather the actual literal Nazis take over the world forever than flip a coin on the end of all value,’ one post responding to a question about whether human values should determine who controls the world.
Some of the former Twitch CEO’s posts concern sex and rape, including one that insisted 40-60 percent of women have ‘rape fantasies.’
Shear appeared to be defending the concept in August against a user who suggested young women use the practice to ‘gain relationship security.’
‘Hmm. Maybe,’ responded Shear. ‘But between 40-60% of women seem to have rape/non-consent fantasies. Why would you assume it’s not genuine sex fantasy for these girls? Or did I misunderstand and you agree it’s genuine fantasy, you’re just talking about the source of the fantasy?’
When the user responded that ‘women who are barely out of girlhood are asking to be kept and loved the only way they think it can be received, which is as a sexual kink,’ Shear doubled down.
He wrote: ‘It’s a BDSM non-consent/humiliation kink thing…you’re probably right they’re eroticizing some fear, just like almost every kink (eg. feeders eroticize the fear of getting fat and becoming unattractive). But it’s kinky sex fantasy.’
Shear has also lashed out at Microsoft, which hired Altman quickly away from OpenAI after he was ousted.
‘When I was interning for Microsoft every paycheck felt like I was getting the payment for a little chunk of my soul in the mail,’ one Shear post reads.
On a completely different end, he also advocated for the eating of various insects in a September 18 post.
‘Bugs taste good actually, have you ever had popcorn crickets? totally delicious. on an unrelated topic, my shiftpod is a great camping experience.’
In one other post, he appears to not value his own new position all that highly, saying CEOs could be automated.
‘Unironically. Most of the CEO job (and the majority of most executive jobs) are very automatable.’
‘There are of course the occasional key decisions you can’t replace,’ he added.
He’s also been critical of liberalism and suggested a housing market crash would be good for the country. However, he clarified in another September post that this is all somewhat improvised.
‘One of my favorite things is that when I talk, I don’t know what I’m going to say before I say it really. So I find out about my insights and jokes at the same time everyone else does, and it’s pretty entertaining.’
Shear, should he continue to run OpenAI, faces the very real possibility of an employee revolt given Altman’s popularity.
One expert said there was a fear that many workers at the company would have left to join Altman if he set up his own AI venture. And leading investors have also been piling on the pressure to make a U-turn.
Shear, born in 1983, grew up in Seattle, and attended the Evergreen School for Gifted Children.
There, he met Justin Kan when the pair were pre-teens, with whom he would go on to found his first company.
The pair remained friends throughout middle school and high school as they plotted their future projects – including one which won them a NASA-sponsored competition.
Shear majored in Computer Science at Yale University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in 2005.
At university, he met another future entrepreneur and colleague in Michael Seibel.
The same year Shear graduated, he and Kan launched a calendar app called Kiko, which they sold on Ebay in September 2006 for $250,000.
Also that September, Shear and Kan founded Justin.tv with Seibel and Kyle Vogt, with Shear as the Chief Technology Officer.
This was a streaming site which began with one channel – streaming Kan’s life 24/7 – but turned into a site on which users could launch their own channels and stage their own live broadcasts.
Justin.tv divided its site into different categories, and in 2011 separated its gaming content onto a new site: Twitch.tv – which now receives over 30 million active users each day, either creating live content, or viewing others’.
Shear became Twitch’s CEO, overseeing the company’s realignment with Justin.tv in 2014, when everything fell back under the brand Twitch Interactive as Amazon acquired it for almost $1 billion.
That sale, and that of Kiko, along with his earnings across his high-profile career contribute to a net worth which has been reported as between $100 million and $500m.
It was only in March 2023 that Shear finally left Twitch – after 2022 revenue of $2.8bn – to be replaced by Dan Clancy, and he has since been a part-time contributor to Y Combinator – the startup fund which fueled his first endeavor in 2005.
In taking up his role at OpenAI, Shear cited his family as a key consideration around the ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’, but he keeps his family life private so it is unclear who exactly that refers to.
Altman founded OpenAI with ten others in 2015, and the company later became known for its leading chatbot ChatGPT.
However, Altman was pulled as over fears he was flouting the dangers of artificial intelligence, according to a New York Times report.
The concerns were aired by a fellow OpenAI board member and culminated with the 38-year-old’s sudden firing on November 17 2023 – sending the tech world into frenzy of speculation.
That speculation was put to bed when the OpenAI board announced their new interim CEO on November 20, with Altman moving to Microsoft to work on their AI team the same day.