Sam Altman’s Nuclear Energy Startup Oklo Goes Public via SPAC, Bringing Chamath Vibes - The Average Joe

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    Sam Altman’s Nuclear Energy Startup Oklo Goes Public via SPAC, Bringing Chamath Vibes

    victorlei

    May 13, 2024

    How many tech CEOs does it take to change a lightbulb? None. They’re all focused on powering it in new ways. And the quest for endless power has brought OpenAI CEO Sam Altman to the world of nuclear energy, investing in several companies in the field. Now, he’s bringing retail investors along for the ride — but before they hop on board, there are a few factors they should consider.

    Embracing Alt-mania: Last week, Sam Altman’s SPAC, AltC Acquisition Corp. ($ALTC), officially took nuclear energy startup Oklo public. The company plans to produce carbon-free energy using mini fission reactors — which have just 15 megawatts of capacity compared to the traditional 1K megawatt capacity nuclear plants. Altman, who also invested in another nuclear fusion startup, Helion, believes that nuclear is the best way to generate enough energy to meet the growing demand from AI. But there are just a few problems:

    • Oklo generates no revenue, has no nuclear plants deployed, and isn’t expected to have one live until 2027.
    • Before last Friday, investors pushed the SPAC’s shares up more than 76% — just to collapse 50% on Friday after the deal was finalized, highlighting one of the many problems with SPACs.

    Cult of personality

    Trump, Chamath, and Shaq — there’s power in a name, but some have carried more weight than others. In recent years, celebrity SPACs have been hit or miss (mostly misses). In 2021, the SEC cautioned against investing based on celebrity endorsements or involvement.

    • Two of Chamath Palihapitiya’s SPACs — Clover Health ($CLOV) and Virgin Galactic Holdings ($SPCE) — are both down ~90%. Another, SoFi ($SOFI), has fallen 30%.
    • However, Donald Trump’s Trump Media & Technology Group ($DJT) has been a rare winner — despite the company continuing to lose users and its auditor being shut down for “massive fraud.”

    Hype can’t replace profits: Past SPAC performances offer insights into how Altman’s SPAC could perform. Bloomberg reports that nearly 25% of the companies that went public via SPAC since 2019 have seen over 90% declines — erasing $46B in market value. Last year, at least 21 companies, including electric scooter company Bird and electric vehicle (EV) maker Lordstown Motors, filed for bankruptcy. While hype may drive initial interest, sustained success hinges on profitability and revenue — a timeless principle in investing.

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