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Sam Altman Relinquishes Control of OpenAI Startup Fund

Marking an end to a controversial period for the fund

Image Credit: TechCrunch Disrupt, San Francisco, 2019

In a move that is set to resolve an unusual corporate structure Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO, has transferred control of the company’s venture capital Startup Fund to Ian Hathaway. Initially reported by Axios, this brings to an end a controversial period in which Altman had personal ownership and control of the fund, which is backed by Microsoft.E

Launched in 2021, the Startup Fund's goal is to help “AI companies have a profound, positive impact on the world,” according to its website, with a focus on early-stage AI-driven startups in fields such as healthcare, law, energy, and education. In 2023, the fund reported $175 million in commitments with $325 million in gross net asset value, according to an SEC filing

In a statement to Axios, an OpenAI spokesperson, "We wanted to get started quickly, and the easiest way to do that due to our structure was to put it in Sam's name," they went on to explain, "We have always intended for this to be temporary."

The fund’s portfolio of investments includes Descript, a collaborative editing platform; Ghost Autonomy, which develops software for autonomous driving; Harvey, a legal tech startup; and Ambience Healthcare, an AI-powered medical scribe. Also, in 2021, Hathaway joined the Startup Fund, playing a key role in its management. Hathaway purportedly led investment initiatives in startups such as Harvey, Ambience, and Speak.