Worldcoin price swings accompany twists in OpenAI saga

Quick Take

  • The token associated with Altman’s crypto project rose over 9% in the past 24 hours after Microsoft said it would hire Altman to lead its new AI team.

The saga surrounding Sam Altman and OpenAI appears to have triggered significant price action in WLD, the token issued by the crypto project Worldcoin, which Altman also co-founded. 

WLD has experienced significant volatility over the past few days, with price swings seemingly triggered by news relating to Altman’s post at OpenAI, analysts said.

WLD rose 9.1% over the past 24 hours to trade at $2.55 at around 4 p.m. Hong Kong time on Monday, according to CoinGecko data. The token rose 31.4% in the past week. While he’s been ousted as CEO of OpenAI, Altman appears to remain the co-founder and chairman of Tools for Humanity, the developer behind Worldcoin. 

On Friday, the tech world was shocked by news that Altman had been removed as CEO from OpenAI, the outfit behind ChaptGPT. He has since engaged in negotiations with the board to return to the role.

On Sunday night in the U.S., however, the board of directors of OpenAI announced in an internal note to staff that Altman would not be returning to his job and that Emmett Shear, the former CEO of Twitch, will replace Mira Murati as OpenAI’s interim chief executive, according to a New York Times report.

Altman was then immediately offered a job at Microsoft — one of the OpenAI investors that had pushed for this return to the AI firm — to lead the software giant’s AI team after he was turned down by OpenAI, Bloomberg reported today.

"We’re extremely excited to share the news that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team," Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft, said today in a post on X.

Worldcoin did not immediately respond to The Block's inquiry on whether Microsoft's appointment of Altman would affect his role at Worldcoin.

Volatility in WLD price


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While there is no direct connection between OpenAI and Worldcoin besides Altman himself, the market appears to view events at OpenAI as a WLD trading signal, experts said.

Justin d'Anethan, head of APAC business development at crypto market maker Keyrock, said that with little clarity on why Altman was fired, “many could speculate on issues with Sam's conduct, any bad behavior or misconduct that could affect the valuation or proper governance of WLD.”

Tools for Humanity, the lead developer of the Worldcoin project, was cofounded by Altman, Alex Blania and Max Novendstern in 2019. The project encourages users to prove their identity online by signing up for a World ID via an iris scan.

“Altman, who led the largest AI company (OpenAI), is building a proof of humanity network (Worldcoin), while also lobbying in Congress about AI regulation,” Matt Bansinelas, founder of Glass Markets, told The Block. “If the government were to impose regulations around human verification in an AI world, with Altman in charge, Worldcoin could be a viable first option.”

The impact of Altman’s fate at OpenAI on WLD's price is clear, d'Anethan added, citing TradingView data. “On the news of his firing, prices dropped over 10% only to recover relatively quickly — either because people understood the issue was more related to a disagreement between the board and Sam than any specific wrongdoing, or, because of the rumors of re-hiring.”

Image: TradingView

WLD is likely to face more “swings” in the coming few days, said Greta Yuan, head of research of Hong Kong-based digital asset platform VDX. “[With Altman being] the face of Worldcoin, the token may experience swings on the [coming] days depending on the conclusion of this fiasco but will remain popular among its investors.”

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Timmy Shen is an Asia reporter for The Block. Previously, he wrote about crypto and Web3 for Forkast.News from Taiwan after spending more than three years in Beijing covering finance and current affairs at Caixin Global and Chinese tech at TechNode. His China-related reporting has also appeared in The Guardian. When he's not chasing headlines, you'll find him savoring hot pot and shabu shabu in a Taipei local haunt. Timmy holds an MS degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Send tips to [email protected] or get in touch on X/Telegram @timmyhmshen.


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