CEO Sam Altman’s Stance on Remote Work Reflects in Company’s Latest Move
Earlier in the year, during an event in San Francisco, OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of fully remote work compared to in-office collaboration. This week, his rapidly growing company inked the most significant office lease in San Francisco since 2018. Amid a challenging period for commercial real estate, impacted by remote work and high vacancy rates, this move brings a glimmer of hope. It also adds to San Francisco’s growing cluster of artificial intelligence companies.
OpenAI has quickly ascended to become one of the world’s most valuable privately-held companies since launching ChatGPT last year. Reports indicate that the company is negotiating to sell shares at an $86 billion valuation and is on track to generate $1 billion in annual revenue. OpenAI will lease two buildings from Uber in the Mission Bay neighborhood, totaling 486,600 square feet in the four-building campus.
Despite a slight recent increase, office attendance in large cities remains about half of what it was in 2019. San Francisco has a record-high 33.9% office vacancy rate, affecting local businesses like retailers and restaurants. However, OpenAI’s move, along with other AI firms leasing space, brings some hope to the city’s economy.
OpenAI’s decision comes as another San Francisco tech company, Expensify, ends its return-to-office experiment. Expensify’s CEO David Barrett concluded that remote work had won, stating they would never go back to a regular nine-to-five office culture. In contrast, Sam Altman emphasized the need for in-person collaboration, stating that the tech industry’s experiment with full remote work was over and not yet technologically feasible for startups.