Dez Reads. Altman’s AI Ecosystem, Consumer Data Shifts, Mexico’s Historic Election, Nvidia’s Market Triumph, the NBA’s Massive Deal, and Ghosn’s Journey from Versailles to Lebanon.

Dezenhall Resources / June 11, 2024
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I suppose we don’t have to talk about Nvidia and Sam Altman every week, but they’re moving markets and driving conversations, so we take a look at both the chipmaker’s $3 trillion market cap and Altman’s web of AI-dependent companies and how they interact with his crown jewel, OpenAI.

Annie Moore talks about the pros and cons of the data-driven democratization of consumer credit; Mike Bova ponders a $76 billion post-TNT television deal for the NBA; Anne Marie Malecha celebrates political progress for women south of the border; and Eric Dezenhall recommends a Netflix documentary on Carlos Ghosn, who got very big before falling very hard.

It’s Summer Friday at Dezenhall, where we pretend we’re going to the pool only to be called back to our desks when client crisis strikes. I hope you all get a chance to enjoy some sunshine.

Here we go.

Business & Finance

WSJ. The Opaque Investment Empire Making OpenAI’s Sam Altman Rich

Sam Altman is the most interesting guy in Silicon Valley right now, as OpenAI’s ChatGPT platform introduced large language models to hundreds of millions of normies across the world. Altman famously owns zero equity in OpenAI and gets paid only a $60,000 annual salary. This, in theory, allows him to pursue the growth of consumer-facing AI in an altruistic fashion that prioritizes ethics over profits.

The WSJ broke the news this week that Altman, a prolific early-stage investor, has a multibillion-dollar portfolio that includes a number of companies that are pursuing business deals with OpenAI. These include a nuclear power startup to power data centers, a company that provides cybersecurity to AI companies, and various companies that have built tech on top of OpenAI platforms.

These potential acute conflicts of interest within OpenAI are interesting, but the bigger question is: If ethical considerations underpin Altman’s interest in artificial intelligence, is it more important that he avoids compensation from OpenAI or that he avoids profiting from every other part of the ecosystem? In other words, if Altman’s net worth is mostly dependent on ChatGPT continuing to exist, how can he impartially grapple with moral and ethical questions about the technology?

– Josh Culling

PYMNTS. Consumer-Permissioned Data Expansion Gives Rise to New Data Brokers

The rise of consumer-permissioned data represents a pivotal shift in the U.S. credit landscape. By incorporating detailed financial behaviors—from regular rental payments to mobile phones and utility bills—into credit assessments, new models promise to democratize personal finance. This approach not only challenges traditional credit scoring mechanisms that often marginalize a significant portion of the population but also paves the way for a more inclusive financial system.

However, there is nuance to this phenomenon. The monetization of sensitive financial data by intermediaries raises privacy and security concerns. Beyond that, reliance on these new data streams by major financial institutions and FinTechs like Plaid and VantageScore will strengthen calls for better regulatory oversight to protect consumers. Can the government keep up?

The potential benefits are huge, offering a lifeline to the “credit insecure” who are underserved by conventional systems. However, the question remains: How do we balance innovation and access with ethics and privacy? An emphasis on consumer protection will be crucial for maintaining trust and achieving genuine financial inclusivity for all.

– Annie Moore


LA Times. Mexico elects leftist Claudia Sheinbaum as the first female president in its history

As of May 13, 2024, there are 28 countries with women serving as heads of state and/or government, according to the UN. This week that became 29, when Claudia Sheinbaum was elected as Mexico’s first female president.

An environmental engineer by training, she served most recently as Mayor of Mexico City. Part of the Morena political party, Sheinbaum is the protégé of outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and her election is largely seen as a continuation of the current administration.

My knowledge of the Mexican electorate isn’t significant enough to meaningfully analyze Sheinbaum’s political record or Morena’s policy platforms. For what it’s worth, markets reacted swiftly to the party’s large majority in Congress, potentially paving the way for a constitutional overhaul with the peso taking a dive against the dollar.

Be that as it may, it’s remarkable and inspiring that in a country where women have only been able to vote for 70 years, their highest elected office is now occupied by a woman. While American women have had the right to vote for 104 years, we’re still working on making Madam President a reality – here’s looking at you 2028.

– Anne Marie Malecha


BBC. Nvidia value surges past $3tn and overtakes Apple

Nvidia has rapidly become the juggernaut of the tech industry, recently surpassing Apple with a staggering $3 trillion market value. This remarkable growth has positioned Nvidia as the central pillar of the tech industry, propelled by its advanced graphics cards and pivotal role in the AI revolution.

In just 66 trading days, Nvidia leaped from a $2 trillion valuation to $3 trillion, a feat that took Apple 719 trading days. This rapid ascent highlights Nvidia’s critical role in powering the latest AI advancements, with its graphics processors being fundamental to the technology’s evolution. The company’s stock has surged by 147 percent in 2024 alone, driven by overwhelming demand for its high-performance AI chips.

While Apple struggles with slowing iPhone demand and fierce international competition, Nvidia is seizing the spotlight. With every major tech firm, from Microsoft to Google, racing to expand their AI capabilities, Nvidia’s chips are at the heart of this technological boom. Every time one of America’s tech behemoths spends a dollar on building AI capacity, Nvidia gets a lot of those pennies. It’s a nice spot to occupy in the market right now.

– Mark Emerson


WSJ. NBA Nears $76 Billion TV Deal, a Defining Moment for Media and Sports

The NBA is reportedly on the verge of securing some of the biggest TV contracts in the history of the league. As negotiations come to a close, the league’s programming will appear over the next 11 years on NBC, ESPN, and Amazon. That amounts to roughly $76 billion in revenue over that time period. This massive deal reflects two key things: 1) Live sports remain the crown jewel for broadcast stations, as they serve as the final bulwark against full cord-cutting. 2) More competition from streamers who need to produce compelling content is driving the prices sky-high.

Amazon is making yet another statement in the sports world – hot off of their 2021 deal to become the exclusive broadcaster of Thursday Night Football at a price tag of $1 billion a year. And while the networks need these big draws to keep their cable packages relevant and competitive, the streamers see it as customer acquisition, as their key metric of subscriber growth is the continued ask of shareholders each quarter.

The other headline here is Warner Bros. Discovery losing their NBA broadcast on TNT, which is considered one of the best sports broadcasts in Inside the NBA. We will see if one of the other suitors tries to replicate that magic over on their broadcast – I would imagine that will cost a pretty penny as well.

– Mike Bova

Interesting Watch

Netflix. Fugitive: The Curious Case of Carlos Ghosn

A recent Netflix documentary traces the rise and spectacular fall of Carlos Ghosn. He became the simultaneous CEO of both Renault and Nissan with spectacular results, achieved ruthlessly. To call him a rock star CEO would be an understatement. Comic books were made depicting Ghosn as a superhero, cape and all. It all came crashing down in 2018 when he was arrested in Japan for allegedly appropriating company funds for personal use, including a 60th birthday party at Versailles of all places. He fled Japan the following year, smuggled out of the country in a musician’s trunk — the kind rock bands use to move instruments and speakers. He landed on a private jet in his home country, Lebanon, where he remains a fugitive. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, Ghosn’s story is a spectacular examination of how the most give us can be felled by a combination of inexplicable human weakness and hubris.

– Eric Dezenhall

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