July 18, 2024
Amidst OpenAI chaos, Sam Altman’s involvement in Worldcoin is 'not expected to change'

Sam Altman may have been asked to leave OpenAI, but his involvement in crypto project Tools for Humanity, which is building Worldcoin, remains uninterrupted, a source close to the project told TechCrunch.

Altman has “consistent and valuable” engagement with Tools for Humanity and “that is not expected to change,” the source said. The source added that Altman is still chairman and co-founder of the project, confirming that the information on the project’s website is up to date.

News of Altman’s ouster sent the Worldcoin token, WLD, plummeting to a low of $1.84 on Saturday, but the token recovered over the weekend and is currently trading on par with previous levels at $2.40, per CoinMarketCap data.

Worldcoin raised $115 million in May in a Series C round led by Blockchain Capital. As of March, Altman was on the project’s board, but was not involved in day-to-day operations.

“Proof of personhood is becoming increasingly important in the rapidly advancing age of AI,” The Worldcoin Foundation told TechCrunch late on Monday. The team supporting Worldcoin is still focused on the project’s mission, “building a more human internet and a more accessible global economy through World ID, a privacy-enhancing way to verify humanness and uniqueness online,” the company said.

Worldcoin is well-known for its controversial Orb hardware, which scans peoples’ irises and assigns them an ID that lets users access Worldcoin’s application and a digital passport. The verification process is meant to prove individuals’ identities and stop anyone from making multiple accounts.

The crypto project has faced pushback from some countries, especially Kenya, which banned Worldcoin from scanning any more of its citizens’ eyeballs on concerns that the company failed to inform users about the data security and privacy measures it had taken, and how the data collected would be used or processed.

Worldcoin has also faced backlash from critics, who allege the company targets developing countries with laxer privacy rules. The project gives most participants (outside the U.S. and some other countries) 25 WLD tokens, worth roughly $58.5, in exchange for signing up, and that has spurred its critics to call it exploitative.

That hasn’t stopped individuals from signing up. Since launching to the public 120 days ago, more than 2.46 million people have signed up for Worldcoin, according to its website. Over the past seven days, more than 65,200 new accounts have been created and the project has averaged 137,000 wallet transactions daily.

Tiago Sada, head of product for Tools for Humanity and a core contributor to Worldcoin, previously told me that focusing on developing countries and providing free tokens was “fair” because most tech projects focus on emerging markets first, given that they are the “easier ones to operate in.” And Altman should be around to help for the foreseeable future.

Read more of our ongoing coverage of Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI and the subsequent fallout:

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