Sam Altman is a San Francisco-based American investor and entrepreneur, co-founder of Hydrazine Capital, former president of Y Combinator, founder and former CEO of Loopt, and co-founder and CEO of OpenAI.
Altman was born in 1985 in Chicago and was raised in St. Louis. He graduated from the John Burroughs School in St. Louis and studied computer science at Stanford University for two years until he dropped out in 2005 to found Loopt, a location-based social networking mobile startup, with seed funding from the first batch of Y Combinator. Altman served as the CEO of Loopt, which raised over $30 million in venture funding, until the company was acquired by Green Dot Corporation for $43.4 million in 2012. In 2012, Sam Altman co-founded Hydrazine Capital, a San Francisco-based early-stage venture capital firm that invests in life sciences, specialty foods, marketplaces, big data, healthcare, consumer networks, enterprise software, internet connected hardware, and education sectors with his brother, Jack Altman.
In 2014, Sam Altman succeeded co-founder Paul Graham as President of the seed accelerator Y Combinator (YC), with a focus on scaling the investment firm and enabling its growth over the long term. In 2016, Altman became President of the newly expanded YC Group, which included YC and other units, YC Continuity, a $700 million growth-stage equity fund that invests in YC companies, YC Research, a non-profit research lab partially funded by a $10 million donation from Altman, and the accelerator's new online class. He stepped down as President of YC Group in 2019.
In 2015, Altman co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research and deployment company with the stated mission, "to ensure that artificial general intelligence- highly autonomous systems that outperform humans at most economically valuable work- benefits all of humanity." Altman, who serves as CEO, co-founded OpenAI with Greg Brockman, who serves as CTO, Ilya Sutskever, who serves as research director, Trevor Blackwell, Vicki Cheung, Andrej Karpathy, Durk Kingma, John Schulman, Pamela Vagata, Wojciech Zaremba, and Elon Musk, who served as co-chair along with Altman until 2018. Altman, Musk, and Brockman, along with Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Infosys, Microsoft, and YC Research pledged a combined donation of $1 billion to fund OpenAI.
Sam Altman has made angel investments in Airbnb, Stripe, Reddit, Asana, Pinterest, Teespring, Zenefits, FarmLogs, TrueNorth, Rescale, Alt, Helion Energy, BRINC, TrialSpark, Roboflow, Wave Mobile Money, Humane, Coco, Kami, LeadGenius, Soylent, and Wevorce. Altman has made partner investments in Beacon AI, Apollo Projects, Cadoo, Boom Supersonic, Titan, Rescale, Reddit, Lob, Change.org, Fibo, and Quora. Notable exits of Sam Altman include Virool, URX, Swiftype, Quill, PlanGrid, Oyster, Optimizely, Nervana, Kimono Labs, and Exec. Altman served on the boards of energy companies Helion, UPower, and Oklo.
In 2008, Sam Altman was named one of the "Best Young Entrepreneurs in Technology" by BusinessWeek. In 2015, Altman was named the top investor under 30 by Forbes. In 2017, he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Waterloo.
Behind The Tech with Kevin Scott: Sam Altman: Entrepreneurial prodigy, Y Combinator President and OpenAI CEO on Apple Podcasts
August 22, 2019
Career Advice from Y Combinator's Sam Altman
October 18, 2016
How to Build the Future with Sam Altman - Y Combinator
September 28, 2016
Pitching Tips from Y Combinator's Sam Altman | Unfiltered Powered by Crimson
May 11, 2021
Sam Altman - How to Succeed with a Startup
August 29, 2018