Sam Altman, Samuel Harris Altman, born on April 22, 1985, is a prominent American entrepreneur and investor recognized as a critical figure in the AI Spring.
He assumed the role of CEO at OpenAI in 2019, a position from which he briefly departed and was reinstated in November 2023. Preceding his tenure at OpenAI, Altman served as the president of Y Combinator between 2014 and 2019.
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Sam Altman’s Early life and education
Samuel Harris Altman, born on April 22, 1985, in Chicago, Illinois, grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, within a Jewish household. His upbringing involved his mother, a dermatologist, and his father, a real estate broker.
Altman, the eldest among his three siblings—brothers Jack and Max and sister Annie—received his first Apple Macintosh computer at eight.
He pursued his early education at John Burroughs School, a private institution in Ladue, Missouri. Despite attending Stanford University for two years to study computer science, Altman opted to leave in 2005 before completing his bachelor’s degree.
Sam Altman’s Career
In 2005, when he was 19 years old, Altman co-established Loopt, a mobile application for location-based social networking. As CEO, Altman secured over $30 million in venture capital for the company.
Despite his efforts, Loopt struggled to attract a sufficient user base. Consequently, in March 2012, it was acquired by the Green Dot Corporation for $43.4 million.
After this acquisition, Altman embarked on a new venture, co-founding Hydrazine Capital with his brother, Jack Altman.
Altman’s association with Y Combinator began in 2011 when he joined as a part-time partner. By February 2014, he was appointed the president of Y Combinator by its co-founder, Paul Graham.
In a 2014 blog post, Altman highlighted that the cumulative valuation of Y Combinator companies had exceeded $65 billion, encompassing notable entities such as Airbnb, Dropbox, Zenefits, and Stripe.
His role expanded in September 2016 when he assumed presidency over the YC Group, extending beyond Y Combinator to include other units.
Altman aimed to widen Y Combinator’s scope, aspiring to fund 1,000 new companies annually, particularly emphasizing support for “hard technology” enterprises.
In October 2015, Altman introduced YC Continuity, a $700 million equity fund to invest in maturing YC companies.
Additionally, he established Y Combinator Research, a non-profit research lab funded by his $10 million donation.
YC Research initiated studies on various subjects, including basic income, future computing, education, and urban development.
In March 2019, Y Combinator announced Altman’s transition from the company’s president to a less hands-on role as Chairman of the Board, allowing him to focus on OpenAI.
This change occurred shortly after YC revealed its plan to relocate its headquarters to San Francisco. By early 2020, Altman had concluded his affiliation with YC.
Altman further expanded his entrepreneurial endeavors by co-founding Tools For Humanity in 2019. The company specializes in developing and distributing eye-scanning systems to authenticate and verify proof of personhood to combat fraud.
Participants agreeing to eye scans receive compensation from a cryptocurrency named Worldcoin. Tools For Humanity characterizes its cryptocurrency as akin to universal basic income.
Sam Altman in OpenAI
Initially, OpenAI received funding from a group including Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Elon Musk, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Infosys, and YC Research. Upon its launch in 2015, OpenAI had amassed $1 billion in funding.
In March 2019, Sam Altman departed Y Combinator to concentrate on OpenAI as its CEO. By the summer of 2019, he was pivotal in securing an additional $1 billion investment from Microsoft.
Altman also provided testimony before the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Privacy, and the Law on May 16, 2023, addressing issues related to AI oversight.
Sam Altman’s Removal and reinstatement as OpenAI CEO
On November 17, 2023, OpenAI’s board, consisting of researcher Helen Toner, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, AI governance advocate Tasha McCauley, and, notably, OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskyver, made a significant decision to remove both Altman, the CEO, and Greg Brockman, co-founder, from the board.
The board cited Altman’s lack of consistent honesty in his communications as the reason for this action, as outlined in a public announcement on the OpenAI blog. Following this decision, Brockman resigned from his position as President of OpenAI.
The day after Altman’s removal, The Verge reported ongoing discussions between Altman and the board regarding his potential reinstatement.
On November 20, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella disclosed that Altman would join Microsoft to head a new advanced AI research team.
Subsequently, OpenAI employees reacted by publishing an open letter directed at the board, threatening to depart from OpenAI to join Microsoft, where employment guarantees had been offered to all employees.
The employees demanded the resignation of all board members and the reinstatement of Altman as CEO.
Initially signed by 505 employees, this number later increased to over 700 out of 770 employees, including Ilya Sutskyver, who had previously advocated for Altman’s dismissal.
Sutskyver apologized on Twitter, regretting his involvement in the board’s actions. Late on November 20, OpenAI announced that they had tentatively agreed for Altman to return as CEO and Brockman to resume his role as president.
As part of the agreement, the current board members, except for D’Angelo, who was retained to represent the previous board’s viewpoints, were expected to resign.
Sam Altman’s Other endeavors
Altman’s tenure as the CEO of Reddit was short-lived, spanning only eight days in 2014 after the resignation of CEO Yishan Wong.
He notably reinstated Steve Huffman as CEO on July 10, 2015. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Altman played a significant role in funding and establishing Project Covalence.
This initiative aimed to facilitate the swift launch of clinical trials in collaboration with TrialSpark, a startup specializing in clinical trials.
During a depositor run on Silicon Valley Bank in mid-March 2023, Altman provided capital to several startups to aid them during this challenging time.
Altman is recognized for his investments in technology startups and nuclear energy companies. Notable entities in his investment portfolio include Airbnb, Stripe, and Retro Biosciences.
He also serves as the board chairman for Helion, a company focused on advancing nuclear fusion, and Oklo, specializing in atomic fission technologies.
In 2018, there were speculations reported by Recode about Altman possibly running for Governor of California in the 2018 election, although he did not enter the race.
The same year, Altman introduced “The United Slate,” a political initiative to enhance housing and healthcare policies.
Additionally, in 2019, Altman hosted a fundraising event at his San Francisco residence supporting the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
In May 2020, Altman contributed $250,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, a super PAC backing Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Following the success of ChatGPT, Altman embarked on a world tour in May 2023, visiting 22 countries and engaging with numerous world leaders and diplomats.
Notable figures he met during this tour included British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, and Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
He also had a photo opportunity with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during this tour.
Sam Altman’s Reception
In 2017, the University of Waterloo in Canada honored Altman with an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree in recognition of his support for companies involved in its Velocity entrepreneurship program.
Notably, in September 2023, Altman received Indonesia’s inaugural “golden visa,” a 10-year border pass issued by the Indonesian government.
Throughout his career, Altman has received prestigious accolades and recognitions. Time magazine acknowledged him as one of the 100 most influential individuals globally and awarded him CEO of the Year in 2023.
Businessweek also highlighted his contributions, recognizing him as one of the “Best Young Entrepreneurs in Technology” in 2008. Forbes magazine lauded Altman as the top investor under 30 in 2015.
Additionally, Altman was an invitee to the Bilderberg Meeting in 2016, 2022, and 2023, marking his presence at this exclusive gathering of global leaders and influencers.
Sam Altman’s Personal Life
Altman adopted a vegetarian lifestyle from his childhood days. Altman openly identifies as gay and came out during his high school years at the age of 17.
His decision arose when some students objected to a National Coming Out Day speaker at his high school.
After two years at college, Altman left to focus on Loopt, during which he was in a relationship with his co-founder Nick Sivo for nine years. Their relationship ended shortly after the company was acquired in 2012.
As of December 2023, Altman is in a relationship with software engineer Oliver Mulherin. The couple resides in San Francisco and enjoys spending their weekends in Napa, California.
Altman’s primary residence is in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood, and he also owns a weekend home in Napa, California.
Known for his preparedness, Altman has described himself as a prepper, stating in 2016, “I have guns, gold, antibiotics, batteries, water, potassium iodide, gas masks from the Israel Defense Forces, and a big patch of land in Big Sur I can fly to.”
FAQ’s about Sam Altman
What happened with OpenAI?
New revelations about the tumultuous events at OpenAI are surfacing, and the unfolding story might be even more dramatic than anticipated.
In recent weeks, the company teetered on the brink of collapse following the board’s abrupt dismissal of CEO Sam Altman—an action that triggered a mass protest from the staff.
However, in a surprising turn, Altman has returned as CEO, accompanied by what appears to be a revamped board. Co-founder Greg Brockman has also reappeared on the scene.
(Feeling dizzy yet?)
What remains shrouded in mystery is the reason behind Altman’s sudden ousting. Why did the board resort to extreme measures that threatened to dismantle the company?
Speculation suggests a significant and unsettling AI discovery by OpenAI this year might hold the key.
During Episode 74 of The Marketing AI Show, Paul Roetzer, founder/CEO of Marketing AI Institute, delved into the potential happenings behind the scenes.
Allegedly, OpenAI might have stumbled upon a groundbreaking AI advancement. In an intriguing comment made just before his dismissal, Altman hinted at witnessing a momentous breakthrough at OpenAI during the APEC Summit.
He referenced being “in the room” for an unprecedented event where OpenAI had “pushed the boundaries of discovery and knowledge.”
Roetzer posits that understanding what Altman witnessed in that instance could provide crucial context for the subsequent events.
Preceding Altman’s removal, a group of employees penned a cautionary letter to OpenAI’s board. Their concern? An AI discovery at OpenAI allegedly posed a threat to Humanity, as reported by Reuters.
This discovery might revolve around AI’s capacity for reasoning and strategic planning. Sources indicate the potential breakthrough goes by the name Q* (pronounced Q-Star) and is believed to be an OpenAI project.
Q* can tackle unfamiliar mathematical problems, an achievement described by The Information as a pivotal milestone in AI. Some experts view this as a precursor to achieving artificial general intelligence (AGI).
The brain behind this breakthrough is Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, who spearheaded both the groundbreaking project and the decision to oust Altman. However, Sutskever later expressed remorse for his involvement.
Sutskever’s long-standing efforts have enhanced models’ ability to solve complex reasoning tasks in fields like mathematics and science. His team hypothesized that affording models more time to respond to queries was the key.
This notion, termed “test time computation,” suggests that allowing more processing time enhances an AI’s reasoning capabilities, as indicated by Roetzer.
The pursuit of test time computation represents a strategy adopted by major AI laboratories to empower AI with advanced planning abilities.
Renowned AI figure Yann LeCun views Q* as OpenAI’s endeavor to develop AI capable of strategic planning—a profound aspiration in artificial intelligence.
Who is the founder of ChatGPT?
The prominent figurehead of the AI boom finds himself needing a job. Sam Altman, CEO and co-founder of OpenAI, which catapulted into the limelight after releasing the influential chat bot ChatGPT, faced an unexpected termination.
The abrupt announcement of his dismissal by the company has left numerous questions unanswered. NPR’s tech correspondent, Bobby Allyn, provides insight into this enigmatic situation.
Altman, a 38-year-old tech luminary, co-established OpenAI eight years ago alongside Elon Musk and others. Their goal was to establish a nonprofit research lab dedicated to ethically developing artificial intelligence, contrary to the profit-oriented motives prevailing in the tech industry.
Despite operating quietly until ChatGPT’s unveiling last year, the AI swiftly gained prominence, becoming the fastest-growing application in history.
Its impact extended across various sectors, spurring debates on reshaping daily life, from publishing and education to healthcare.
Altman, a globally sought-after figure, actively advocated for AI, testified before Congress on AI regulations, and encountered criticism from AI skeptics.
He held considerable influence as one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful executives. Regarding his departure, the company’s board cited Altman’s lack of consistent communication as the reason for his firing, offering minimal elaboration.
The sudden decision surprised investors, employees, and even Altman himself. Speculation circles around disagreements between Altman and the board regarding the balance between swiftly releasing AI products and ensuring their safety.
Allegedly, Altman leaned towards quicker releases. In contrast, some board members expressed concerns about societal risks.
Amidst this upheaval, Mira Murati assumes the role of interim CEO, navigating OpenAI through a turbulent period marked by legal disputes and evolving regulatory landscapes.
Altman, well-connected in the tech realm, remains engaged in discussions about his future endeavors. Despite Altman’s departure, Microsoft, having invested $13 billion in OpenAI, reaffirmed its commitment to the company.
While the specifics behind Altman’s firing remain elusive, the fallout of this dramatic event reverberates across the tech industry, raising questions about the trajectory of both OpenAI and ChatGPT’s future.
As clarity emerges on Altman’s exit circumstances, NPR’s Bobby Allyn pledges to provide further updates.
Does Sam Altman know how you code?
We are introducing Sam Altman, the former CEO of OpenAI, who delved into coding at 8 and is recognized as a doomsday prepper with a cache of firearms and precious metals.
Is Sam Altman age?
Sam Altman is 38 and was born on April 22, 1985.
What is chat GPT?
ChatGPT is an advanced conversational AI model developed by OpenAI. It belongs to the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) series, known for its natural language understanding and generation capabilities.
ChatGPT has been crafted to participate in lifelike conversations, comprehend context, produce cohesive replies, and furnish precise information spanning diverse subjects.
It uses deep learning techniques to comprehend and generate text, making it adept at simulating human-like conversation and responding contextually in multiple scenarios.