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From iPhone Hacker to Tech Tycoon – George Hotz Net Worth

George Hotz, or “geohot,” is no ordinary tech prodigy. At just 17 years old, he accomplished the remarkable feat of being the first person to unlock an iPhone from the AT&T network. This led him from a teen hacking sensation to a respected entrepreneur and founder.

Hotz’s early hacking skills were undeniable. But over time, he redirected his talents into business, founding innovative companies like comma.ai and Tinygrad. His net worth skyrocketed as a result.

Let’s take a closer look at George Hotz’s net worth and unorthodox career trajectory and analyze the sources of his current wealth.

 

Full Name George Francis Hotz Jr.
Gender Male
George Hotz Wife/Fiancé N/A
Date Of Birth & Age Oct 02, 1989, 34 Years
Place of Birth & Nationality New Jersey, American
Source of Wealth Professional Hacker & Entrepreneur
Net worth in 2024 Estimated $10M

 

Early Exploits That Made Hotz Famous

Long before becoming a startup founder, Hotz made a name for himself in the world of hacking. Here are some of his most notable technical feats from his teens and early 20s:

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Unlocking the Original iPhone

In August 2007, a 17-year-old Hotz became the first reported person to carrier-unlock an iPhone. This allowed the device to be used on networks other than AT&T, the exclusive carrier at the time.

The hack earned Hotz fame and notoriety. He traded his second unlocked iPhone to the founder of CertiCell in exchange for a Nissan 350Z and three 8GB iPhones.

Jailbreaking Apple Devices

Hotz continued his work hacking Apple devices. In October 2009, he released a tool called blackra1n to jailbreak devices running iOS 3.1.2. This allowed users to install apps outside the App Store and customize their iPhones.

Hotz released additional jailbreak techniques for iOS until October 2010, when he announced discontinuing his jailbreaking activities. But the impact was already made.

Cracking the PlayStation 3

In December 2009, Hotz set his sights on the PlayStation 3. He eventually discovered an exploit that gave him full access to the console’s memory and hypervisor.

Sony responded aggressively. They sued Hotz and eventually settled out of court after he posted the PlayStation 3’s root keys online. This catapulted Hotz to mainstream notoriety.

Towelroot for Android

In June 2014, Hotz developed an Android root exploit called towel root. It exploited a vulnerability to achieve root access on Samsung Galaxy S5 devices.

Hotz later made towelroot compatible with other Android phones like the Nexus 5. Updates to Android closed this specific vulnerability, but towel root was still a major hack.

Shifting Gears to Tech Entrepreneurship

After his early hacking achievements, George Hotz turned his attention to startup entrepreneurship. He founded comma.ai in 2015 to develop self-driving car technology. More recently, in 2022, he launched Tinygrad to tackle machine learning infrastructure.

Brief Spell at Tech Giants

Between hacking exploits and becoming a founder, Hotz spent brief stints at several major tech firms. He worked at Facebook from 2011 to 2012 and did a 4-month internship on the Chrome security team at Google in 2014.

This gave Hotz experience inside the tech industry before branching out independently.

Founding Comma.ai to Make Autonomous Vehicles

In September 2015, Hotz founded comma.ai with the ambitious goal of bringing autonomy to mainstream vehicles.

He developed an aftermarket autonomous driving kit for the Acura ILX. Hotz’scomma one system used machine learning and computer vision to enable advanced driver assistance features.

After scrutiny from regulatory agencies like the NHTSA, comma.ai open-sourced its self-driving car software as an open pilot in late 2016. The startup continued iterating and now sells the comma two driver-assist device.

Creating Tiny Grad to Optimize Machine Learning

In November 2022, Hotz established a new startup called Tinygrad. Its mission is to optimize machine learning infrastructure by porting ML instruction sets to hardware accelerators.

Tinygrad has developed a neural network framework that balances simplicity and functionality for ML engineers. The startup raised $5.1 million in funding within its first few months.

Estimating George Hotz’s Current Net Worth

So, how much is renowned hacker and entrepreneur George Hotz worth today? Estimates indicate that his present net worth is approximately $10 million.

That’s a huge leap from his early hacking days. Let’s analyze the primary sources contributing to Hotz’s multimillion-dollar fortune.

Media Attention and Donations

Early in his career, Hotz collected donations from supporters impressed by his hacking skills. Media interviews also brought income opportunities.

Unlocking the original iPhone at 17 gained Hotz fame across global tech news outlets. This attention was likely his first source of revenue.

Settlement from Sony Lawsuit

Hotz’s decision to publish the PlayStation 3’s root keys online resulted in a lawsuit from Sony. They eventually settled out of court in April 2011.

While the exact terms were not disclosed, analysts assume the settlement amount was likely in the millions. This event brought Hotz mainstream notoriety.

Startup Funding Rounds

As a founder of two startups, Hotz has raised venture capital funding for comma.ai and tinygrad.

Comma.ai has raised over $18M to date. Tinygrad received $5.1M in seed funding within months of being founded. These rounds contribute to Hotz’s net worth.

Salary and Equity as Founder

Hotz maintains sizable ownership stakes in his startups. He also pays himself a salary as a founder and executive.

While startup income is variable and dependent on exits, these factors constitute his current active income streams.

The Road Ahead: What’s Next for George Hotz?

While already highly accomplished, George Hotz is still in progress at 33. Where could his career and net worth go from here?

Pushing Comma.ai Forward

Comma.ai appears to be Hotz’s primary focus at the moment. The startup aims to ship an affordable L2+ automated driving system for highway driving in 2023.

If comma.ai succeeds in bringing mainstream autonomy to market, it could be a hugely lucrative exit for Hotz.

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Developing tiny grad

On the side, Tiny Grad continues to develop its machine learning compiler and hardware accelerator solutions.

This nascent startup has massive room for growth. Its innovations could become integral ML infrastructure.

Tackling New Domains

Knowing his intellectually restless nature, Hotz will likely continue finding new technology domains to explore.

He could bring his hacker approach to fields like biometrics, space tech, robotics, or synthetic biology next. The possibilities are endless for his versatile skill set.

If his past trajectory is any indicator, George Hotz has a bright future ahead with many impactful contributions yet to be made. His ever-growing wealth will be one benchmark of his continued success.

The journey from teen iPhone hacker to startup founder has certainly been remarkable thus far. Hotz is a one-of-a-kind innovator the tech world will continue hearing about for years.

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