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Sam Altman

Samuel Harris Altman is an American entrepreneur, investor, and programmer. He is the CEO of OpenAI and co-founder of , a and digital ID project. Sam Altman was the co-founder of Loopt, former President of Y-Combinator, and was briefly the CEO of Reddit. [1]

Early Life & Education

Sam Altman, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, received his first computer at the age of eight and attended John Burroughs School. He briefly pursued computer science at Stanford University but dropped out after one year without completing his Bachelor's degree. [2][10]

Career

Loopt

At 19, Sam Altman co-founded Loopt, a location-based social networking mobile application. As CEO, he successfully secured over $30 million in venture capital for the company. However, Loopt did not achieve sufficient user adoption. In 2012, the company was acquired by the Green Dot Corporation for $43.4 million. [3][4][5]

"i failed pretty hard at my first startup--it sucked!--and am doing pretty well on my second. the thing i wish someone told me during the first one is that no one else thinks about your failures as much as you do, and that as long as don't psych yourself out you can try again." - Sam tweeted[9]

Y Combinator

Sam Altman joined Y Combinator as a partner in 2011, initially working part-time. In February 2014, he was appointed President of Y Combinator by co-founder Paul Graham. In a 2014 blog post, Altman revealed that the combined valuation of Y Combinator companies had exceeded $65 billion, featuring notable startups like Airbnb, Dropbox, Zenefits, and Stripe. In September 2016, Altman expanded his role to become the president of YC Group, encompassing Y Combinator and other associated units. [6]

In October 2015, Sam Altman introduced YC Continuity, a $700 million equity fund dedicated to investing in maturing Y Combinator companies. Around the same time, he also established Y Combinator Research, a non-profit research lab, and contributed $10 million to support its initiatives. YC Research has undertaken research in areas such as basic income, the future of computing, education, and urban development. [19]

In March 2019, Altman transitioned from his role as president to Chairman of the Board at Y Combinator, taking on a less hands-on role to focus on OpenAI. His decision coincided with YC's relocation of its headquarters to San Francisco. However, as of early 2020, he is no longer associated with Y Combinator. [20]

OpenAI

Established in December 2015, OpenAI's founding board included and Sam Altman as co-chairs, later expanding to include Chris Clark and Holden Karnofsky. OpenAI secured its initial funding from its founders, as well as Greg Brockman, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Infosys, and YC Research, reaching a total of $1 billion USD at the time of launch. Focused on the responsible development of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), OpenAI aims for equitable access, benefit distribution, and risk management.[36][37][38][39]
Notable achievements include the introduction of language models (GPT-2 through GPT-4) and DALL-E 3, an system generating images from textual descriptions. The GPT Store, initially slated for late November 2023, is now scheduled for an early 2024 launch.
In 2020, Sam Altman shifted his focus to become the full-time CEO of OpenAI, leaving his role at Y Combinator. In May 2023, Altman testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, discussing matters related to oversight. [7][8]

On November 17, 2023, OpenAI announced in a blog post that Sam Altman had departed OpenAI with Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, serving as interim CEO, effective immediately.

The blog post reads:

Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.

In a statement, the board of directors said: “OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward. As the leader of the company’s research, product, and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period.”

However, on November 21, 2023, OpenAI announced an "agreement in principle" for Sam Altman's return alongside a new board, including Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo, with D’Angelo serving as a link to the previous board. Additionally, Microsoft has entered the non-profit board as a non-voting observer. [26]
The resolution to reinstate Sam Altman as the CEO of OpenAI was made following the submission of a letter by numerous OpenAI employees, including interim CEO Mira Murati and former board member Ilya Sutskever. In the letter, they expressed their intention to resign if Altman did not return as CEO.
Prior to his reinstatement, Sam Altman was engaged in discussions with Microsoft about the possibility of joining the company to lead a new research lab, in collaboration with Greg Brockman. As the principal investor in OpenAI, Microsoft, alongside other key investors, affirmed its commitment to the partnership with Sam Altman, which played a significant role in his eventual reinstatement as the CEO of OpenAI. [34][35]

Reddit

Sam Altman was the CEO of Reddit for eight days in 2014 after CEO Yishan Wong resigned. He announced the return of Steve Huffman as CEO on July 10, 2015. [11]

Worldcoin

is an iris biometric project developed by San Francisco and Berlin-based Tools for Humanity[12]. It was founded in 2019 by Sam Altman, Max Novendstern[17], and Alex Blania[16] and backed by VC . [13]

The Worldcoin project involves an eye-scanning "orb,” which must be used in person and gives users a unique digital identity to verify they are real humans and not a bot. [14]

"The idea came from wanting to solve the problem of humanness through a privacy-preserving and non-fraudulent solution" - Sam Altman [25]

Worldcoin launched its utility WLD token and on Twitter on July 24, 2023. [15]

"the goal is simple: a global financial and identity network based on proof of personhood. this feels especially important in the AI era. i'm hopeful worldcoin can contribute to conversations about how we share access, benefits, and governance of future AI systems." - Sam Altman tweeted. [15]

Speaking on why is needed in this era, Sam Altman said:

"When we think about these very powerful systems, these very powerful AIs that will exist in the world, I think the benefits from them, access to them, governance of them, those belong to real people. And I think it's very important that AI is being built as tools for people"

"I also think that the ability to say I'm a human I created this content or I'm at least endorsing this content, that's gonna turn out to be important too" - Sam Altman

Word lD

World ID is privacy-preserving proof of personhood. It enables users to verify their humanness online while maintaining their privacy through zero-knowledge proofs, via a custom biometric device called the Orb. [18]

World IDs are issued on the protocol, which allows individuals to prove that they are human to any verifier (including web2 applications) while maintaining their privacy through zero-knowledge proofs. [18]

Speaking on the complexity & pressure surrounding the launch, Sam said;

"It's been very cool to watch how good the worldcoin team has gotten at getting good at new challenges. One of the things I love most about startups is watching people learn just how much they can get done and just how much they're capable of. Small teams in particular & the worldcoin team is certainly outperformed expectations" [25]

Tools For Humanity

Established in 2019, Tools for Humanity is a global software and hardware development company co-founded by Sam Altman and Alex Blania. Headquartered in Germany, the company operates in the blockchain, hardware, and software industries. It contributes to the development and expansion of the ecosystem and other projects, aiming to bring and digital identity technologies to a global scale. With an active operating status, the company's latest funding type was a Series C round.[30][31][32]

Apollo Projects

Established in 2021, Apollo Projects, a venture capital firm based in Greenville, South Carolina, involves Sam Altman as a Co-Founder. Altman plays a role in identifying and supporting technology sector companies within the firm. Operating with a focus on actively seeking new investments, Apollo Projects has been associated with 23 investments, functioning primarily as a venture capital entity with additional involvement in accelerator/incubator activities.[27][28]

Hydrazine Capital

Founded in 2022, Hydrazine Capital is an active venture capital firm co-founded by Sam Altman and Ryan Cohen, focusing on financial services. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, the firm has invested in companies like ValueBase as of February 1, 2023.[29]

Recognition

Altman was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2023, one of the "Best Young Entrepreneurs in Technology" by Businessweek in 2008, and the top investor under 30 by Forbes magazine in 2015. [21][22]

In June 2017, Altman received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo for supporting companies from its Velocity entrepreneurship program. In August 2017, GLAAD recognized him with the Ric Weiland Award for promoting LGBTQ equality and acceptance in the tech sector. [23][24]

In September 2023, Sam Altman became the inaugural recipient of Indonesia's recently implemented golden visa, designed to attract foreign investors to the country.[33]

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