OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Hands Over Control of Startup Fund

In a significant development, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has transferred formal control of the company’s venture capital fund, known as the OpenAI Startup Fund, to Ian Hathaway, marking a shift in governance and resolving an unusual corporate venture structure, as reported by Axios.

The OpenAI Startup Fund, established in 2021, was initially under Altman’s control, posing potential complications for the company, especially after his brief removal as CEO in November. However, Altman’s transfer of control to Hathaway clarifies the fund’s governance and operational structure.

Altman’s ownership of the fund had drawn attention due to its atypical structure. Despite being marketed as a corporate venture arm, the fund was raised by Altman from external limited partners, with Altman making investment decisions. Notably, Altman maintained that he had no financial interest in the fund despite his ownership.

Hathaway, who joined OpenAI in 2021, played a pivotal role in managing the Startup Fund, overseeing investments in various AI-driven startups, including Ambience Healthcare, Cursor, Harvey, and Speak. His appointment as the fund’s sole partner underscores OpenAI’s commitment to ensuring effective governance and strategic investment management.

The OpenAI Startup Fund, with commitments totaling $175 million last year, has seen significant growth, with its gross net asset value now standing at over $325 million. Notable investors in the fund include Microsoft and other external backers, reflecting confidence in OpenAI’s investment strategy and the potential of early-stage AI-driven companies.

The restructuring of the fund’s governance comes amid ongoing developments within OpenAI and Altman’s broader investment portfolio. Recently, reports emerged of a $100 billion data center project involving OpenAI and Microsoft, underscoring the company’s ambitious plans for AI infrastructure development.

Altman’s ventures outside of OpenAI, such as Worldcoin and Helion Energy, have also attracted regulatory scrutiny, highlighting the complexities of navigating regulatory frameworks in emerging technology sectors.

In light of these developments, Altman’s decision to relinquish control of the Startup Fund aligns with OpenAI’s focus on ensuring transparency, effective governance, and strategic alignment with its core mission of advancing artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity.