OpenAI’s Sam Altman is the latest tech entrepreneur making a play to extend the human lifespan. Here are 15 of the world's wealthiest entrepreneurs trying to crack the code of living forever.
A growing number of the world's richest entrepreneurs are using their wealth to fight aging.
They're taking supplements, abiding by austere fitness routines, and investing millions into longevity research.
Insider rounded up a list of 15 entrepreneurs actively seeking the fountain of youth.
Sam Altman is quickly establishing himself as a household name as the CEO of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. It's unclear what Altman's net worth is right now — his name doesn't appear on the well-known billionaire indexes maintained by Bloomberg or Forbes. However, OpenAI was reportedly valued at $29 billion in January after Microsoft confirmed plans to invest $10 billion into the company.
Altman seems to be channeling some of his probable largesse into extending the human lifespan. MIT Technology Review reported that Altman invested $180 million into Retro Biosciences, a company with a mission to "add 10 years to healthy human lifespan," according to the company's site.
Altman's investment in Retro Biosciences is among the "largest ever by an individual into a startup pursuing human longevity," MTR said.
According to MTR, Altman believes that the world of longevity needs a "OpenAI-type effort." In other words, a major game-changer.
Altman also said his personal anti-aging regimen includes "trying to eat healthy, exercise, sleep enough," and taking metformin, a diabetes drug that is increasingly being taken by Silicon Valley biohackers as a way to slow aging.
Tech billionaire Peter Thiel may be best known for co-founding companies like PayPal, Palantir Technologies and donating to Republican political candidates, but he's also funneled millions into the field of longevity research.
In 2012, he told Insider, "There are all these people who say that death is natural, it's just part of life, and I think that nothing can be further from the truth."
Thiel was an early investor in Unity Biotechnology, a company that develops drugs to target aging cells. In 2006, also pledged $3.5 million to the Methuselah Foundation, a nonprofit focused on anti-aging research by way of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. By 2017, he had boosted that investment to $7 million.
He's reportedly signed up with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on cryonics, the practice of freezing of human corpses to stop the aging process. He's made several investments in biotechnology companies through the Thiel Foundation, and a handful through his venture firm, Founder Fund.
Insider's Cadie Thompson reported that in 2003, Oracle founder Larry Ellison told his biographer, "Death has never made any sense to me. How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there?"
Ellison has devoted millions over the years to fighting that mysterious phenomenon.
In 1997, he founded the Ellison Medical Foundation, which "supports basic biomedical research on aging relevant to understanding lifespan development processes and age-related diseases and disabilities," Insider reported based on its website.
Until the foundation stopped funding new anti-aging research in 2013, approximately 80% of the $430 million in grants the foundation awarded to medical researchers were directed to the cause.
By 2020, Vox reported that Ellison was disbanding the program entirely to refocus on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2013, Google co-founder Larry Page announced the launch of the California Life Company, more commonly known as Calico Labs.
The goal of Calico Labs — which falls under the umbrella of Google's parent company, Alphabet— is to research aging and develop medicines to combat age-related diseases, according to its website.
In 2014, Calico Labs began working with biopharmaceutical company, AbbVie, towards developing therapies against age-related diseases in an initiative that has received billions in investment.
Calico Labs has also been credited recently as the forerunner to Altos Labs, a cell-rejuvenation startup that reportedly claims Jeff Bezos as an investor.
However, Calico co-founder Bill Maris also told Insider in 2020 that he was "disappointed" with the lack of visible progress Calico has made in the field.
Sergey Brin's interest in longevity research might be more personal than his fellow tech billionaires.
In 2008, the Google co-founder revealed in a blog post that he had a genetic mutation that made him more susceptible to Parkinson's disease.
Over the years, Brin has poured more than $1 billion into research on the disease, Forbes reported in December, citing people familiar with his philanthropy.
Brin has also spearheaded several ventures devoted to stopping the aging clock. In addition to investing money into Calico Labs, he also announced in 2015 that Google's Life Sciences team would become an independent unit under Alphabet, and rebranded to Verily Life Sciences. It has since worked on wearable tech initiatives, like the Verily Study Watch, which aims to help people live a healthier life.
Insider's Cadie Thompson reported that in 2015, the late physicist Stephen Hawking asked Mark Zuckerberg about which big questions in science he sought answers to.
Zuckerberg responded, "I'm most interested in questions about people. What will enable us to live forever? How do we cure all diseases? How does the brain work? How does learning work and how we can empower humans to learn a million times more?"
One of the ways he might be answering those questions is through the Breakthrough Prize, a set of $3 million prizes give to "the world's top scientists working in the fundamental sciences – the disciplines that ask the biggest questions and find the deepest explanations," according to its website.
Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are among a small crop of Silicon Valley elite who founded the prize in 2012, and continue to back it.
In 2016— after he and Chan committed millions to curing infectious diseases through their philanthropic initiative, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative— Zuckerberg said, "by the time we get to the end of this century, it will be pretty normal for people to live past 100."
Sean Parker is widely recognized as co-founder of the file-sharing service Napster, and later, Facebook's first president.
But he also struggles with life-threatening food allergies, and has dedicated millions into funding research in the life sciences.
In 2015, he launched the Parker Foundation with an initial investment of $600 million. The goal of the foundation was to fund programs in life sciences, global public health, and civic engagement, Insider reported, following its launch.
A year later, he founded the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, PICI, in order to "accelerate the development of breakthrough immune therapies to turn all cancers into curable diseases," according to its website.
PICI has now created several research centers in partnership with the top institutes in the country including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Stanford Medicine, adding partnerships with the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco and Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2022, according to STAT.
Some might call Jack Dorsey the former CEO of Twitter, or the current CEO of mobile payment company Block, once known as Square.
Others, like New York Times reporter Nellie Bowles, call him the Gwyneth Paltrow for Silicon Valley.
The metonym is the result of Dorsey's fastidious commitment to wellness. He has admitted to eating one meal per day, fasting on weekends, taking ice baths, waking up at 5 a.m. every morning, and meditating for two hours in order to optimize his cognitive performance.
Dorsey said his regimented schedule came from the stress of running a company like Twitter.
"When I went back to Twitter and took on the second job, I got super-serious about meditation and I got really serious about just dedicating a lot more of my time and energy to working out and staying physically healthy and looking more critically at my diet," Dorsey said, after taking helm of the platform again in 2015.
"I had to. Just to stay above water." he added.
Jeff Bezos is reportedly an investor in Altos Labs, a biotech startup with a goal "to restore cell health and resilience through cellular rejuvenation programming to reverse disease, injury, and the disabilities that can occur throughout life," according to its website.
The company — which launched in 2022 — has already been incorporated in the US and UK, and has plans to establish institutes in more locations like the Bay Area, San Diego, Cambridge, UK and Japan, according to MIT Technology Review.
Altos Labs is also, "recruiting a large cadre of university scientists with lavish salaries and the promise that they can pursue unfettered blue-sky research on how cells age and how to reverse that process," MTR reported.
Yuri Milner is Russian-born billionaire who made his money as an early backer of Facebook and Twitter.
According to MIT Technology Review, Milner and his wife Julia are also investors in Altos Labs.
Milner has also made hefty donations to advancing scientific research in the years.
The Milner's are backers of the Breakthrough Prize, a set of $3 million awards given to remarkable physicists, biologists, and mathematicians, that also claims supporters like Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki.
In 2021, the Milky Way Research Foundation — a nonprofit sponsored by Milner according to MTR — gave out three-year grants of $1 million a year to longevity researchers.
One of the projects examined a method of cellular reprogramming which might eventually "facilitate the discovery of novel anti-ageing genes and therapies," according to its abstract.
Dmitry Itskov is the founder of the online media company, New Media Stars.
But what he's really made headlines for is his quest for immortality.
In 2011, Itskov launched a nonprofit called the 2045 Initiative. According to its website, through something called the "main science mega-project" the nonprofit:
"Aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual's personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world's major spiritual traditions, science and society."
Its goal, in other words, is to use technology to create avatars with hologram bodies and synthetic brains that will be rewired with human personalities.
And it's all supposed to be completed by the year 2045.
"This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive!" the site notes.
David Murdock, the former chairman of Dole, has a more modest request than other billionaires. The 99 year-old just wants to make to the age of 125.
Murdock apparently became fixated on his health after losing his third wife to cancer, according to Insider's summary of a New York Times profile from 2011.
His diet, as of 2011, was limited to seafood, egg whites, beans, nuts. He avoided dairy, red meat, and even salt, sugar, and alcohol. He lifted weights several times a week, took brisk walks on the treadmill, and tried to maintain a weight of 140 pounds, Insider noted.
Aside from his personal routine, Murdock has also directed millions into scientific research on food science and nutrition. He's spent a reported $500 million on developing a public-private research center called North Carolina Research Campus, according to the NYT.
The NYT described it as "a scientific center dedicated to his conviction that plants, eaten in copious quantities and the right variety, hold the promise of optimal health and maximal life span."
Robert G. Miller
Robert Miller is a Canadian businessman who founded Future Electronics, a distributor of electronic equipment.
While Miller has largely maintained his distance from the press over the years, a Forbes story from 2014 mentions his interest in cryonics— the freezing of human bodies to restore life in the future.
Miller is reportedly an investor in Alcor Life Extension, a nonprofit dedicated to cryonics, and intends to be cryo-preserved after his death, according to Fortune.
The 45-year-old biotech entrepreneur Bryan Johnson has the heart of 37-year-old, the skin of a 28-year-old, and the lungs of a young adult, according to Insider's summary of a Bloomberg story from January 25.
Johnson seems to be reversing, or at least stopping, the aging clock through an intense regimen of exercise, diet, and daily supplements guided physician Oliver Zolman, who calls himself a "rejuvenation doctor" Insider noted.
The entrepreneur's daily routine starts at 5 am with a mouthful of supplements including lycopene, metformin, turmeric, zinc, and others, Insider noted.
Johnson also maintains a vegan diet of solid and soft food that total up to around 1,977 calories a day, Insider noted.
In 2021 alone he achieved a world record age reversal of 5.1 years, Insider noted.
Anne Wojcicki, founder of the genetic testing company 23andMe, is among a handful of women investing in the longevity space. While 23andMe is not explicitly focused on longevity the company's blog has several posts on the topic.
Wojcicki — the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin — is both board member and along with Brin, backer of the Breakthrough Prize.
In 2022, she also invested in the Series A round of Gameto, a biotechnology company with a mission to reprogram ovarian cells to slow down the aging in the ovary.
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