Sam Altman is an American entrepreneur and investor. He used to be the president of Y Combinator. He is the CEO of OpenAI, an American AI (artificial intelligence) research organisation.
Samuel Harris Altman was born on Monday, 22 April 1985 (age 38 years; as of 2023) in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. His zodiac sign is Taurus.
Altman attended the John Burroughs School in Ladue, Missouri, United States. He attended Stanford University in California to pursue a Bachelor’s in Computer Science but dropped out after two years in 2005. In 2014, Altman returned to Stanford to teach a class on “How to Start a Startup”.
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Weight (approx.): 70 kg
Hair Colour: Brown
Eye Colour: Blue
Sam was born into a Jewish family in Chicago, Illinois. They then moved to St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Parents & Siblings
Sam’s father, Jerry Altman, was a real estate broker. Jerry passed away at the age of 67 due to a heart attack in 2018. Sam’s mother, Connie Gibstine, is a dermatologist. Altman, the eldest of four children, has two brothers, Jack and Max, and a sister, Annie.
Husband & Children
Sam Altman is married to Oliver Mulherin, with whom he lives in Russian Hill, San Fransisco. The couple made their first public appearance at a White House dinner hosted for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2023. On 11 January 2024, the couple got married in a private ceremony.
Altman was in a relationship with the co-founder of Loopt, Nick Sivo, for nine years until 2012. The two broke up after Loopt was acquired by another company.
Sam Altman follows Judaism.
5602 Cherry St, Rialto, California – 92377, U.S.A.
In 2005, at the age of 19, Sam Altman co-founded Loopt, a location-based social networking mobile application. Altman acted as the CEO and raised over $30 million in venture capital for the company. Despite his efforts, Loopt struggled to gain enough users, and in March 2012, it was acquired by the Green Dot Corporation for $43.4 million. Altman and his brother Jack Altman then went on to co-found Hydrazine Capital in April 2012. Hydrazine Capital was a venture capital firm that made investments in healthcare, speciality food, internet-connected hardware etc.
In 2011, Altman joined Y Combinator, a startup accelerator that invested in various startups. He started by working there part-time. In February 2014, co-founder Paul Graham named Altman the president of Y Combinator. In a blog post in 2014, Altman shared that the total valuation of Y Combinator companies had exceeded $65 billion, and featured successful ventures such as Airbnb, Dropbox, Zenefits, and Stripe.
In September 2016, Altman, as the president of YC Group, began overseeing Y Combinator and its other units as well. In October 2015, Altman introduced YC Continuity, a $700 million equity fund investing in maturing Y Combinator companies. He also launched Y Combinator Research, a non-profit research lab, and contributed $10 million to its funding. Y Combinator Research focused on exploring topics such as basic income, the future of computing, education, and urban development. In March 2019, Altman became Chairman of the Board at Y Combinator to concentrate on OpenAI. However, according to reports, Altman allegedly left Y Combinator as he was fired for self-appointing himself as Chairman without proper authorization.
In 2015, Sam Altman founded OpenAI along with Elon Musk, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, Wojciech Zaremba, and John Schulman. It was founded as a nonprofit organisation with Altman and Elon Musk as the co-chairs.
Altman, Musk, Peter Thiel (an American entrepreneur), and Amazon Web Services put in a funding of $1 billion. In 2019, Elon Musk proposed that he run Open AI. Altman rejected this proposal which led Elon to leave OpenAI. Altman then turned OpenAI into a for-profit organisation. OpenAI also partnered with Microsoft which had 49% control over it. OpenAI’s directors fired Altman on 17 November 2023 stating that Altman was not being truthful with the board.
He was reinstated as CEO on 21 November 2023. As of January 2024, OpenAI has only around 700 employees. OpenAI’s most famous models are ChatGPT, which is an AI Chatbot first released in 2022 and DALL-E which is a text-to-image AI system whose initial release was in 2021. OpenAI continues to release newer versions of their models. As of January 2024, they have announced the release of GPT – 5.
In January 2024, Bloomberg released a report stating that Altman was concerned over the shortage of semiconductor chips and was looking to raise billions of dollars to set up a network of factories that produce semiconductors. Bloomberg
Tools For Humanity
In 2019, Altman co-founded Tools For Humanity(TFH). TFH is a company that worked on developing systems to scan people’s eyes for authentication and proof of personhood. This was done through an orb that scans people’s eyes and prevents fraud or theft of identity. Participants who agreed to eye scans through the iris-scanning orb received compensation in the form of Worldcoin, a cryptocurrency introduced by TFH. According to TFH, Worldcoin is similar to universal basic income/currency.
Investments & Other Roles
Salm Altman is the founder and President of Altman Technologies, Inc. It is a company that provides products and services to the wire industry. Altman also has investments in ventures such as “Humane,” the world’s first wearable computer powered by AI, “Retro Biosciences,” a research company whose aim is to extend human life by ten years, and “Helion Energy,” an American research company. In 2014, Altman was made the CEO of Reddit for eight days. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Altman assisted in funding and establishing Project Covalence, which dealt with the development of diagnostic methods and treatments for COVID-19, and aimed to support researchers in quickly initiating clinical trials.
In 2017, Altman expressed concern over how Donald Trump was leading the nation and considered running for governor of California during its 2018 election. In an interview with Time, he claimed not to be serious about it and called it “a very lightweight consideration”. Time According to his senior aide, Matt Krisiloff, they spent six months organizing focus groups in California and said it wasn’t just a random idea. Altman published a 10-point plan called the United Slate, with goals like lowering housing costs, Medicare for all, tax reform, and clean-energy targets. Ultimately, he decided to stick with his career in AI. Altman still has a strong interest in politics and supports ideas like a land-value tax. In 2019, he held a fundraiser for presidential candidate Andrew Yang and in 2020, he made a financial of $ 2,50,000 to the then-presidential candidate, Joe Biden.
Controversial Blog Post About San Fransisco
In 2017, Sam Altman faced criticism from people on the internet and those in the tech industry for comments he made in his blog about the political and social climate of San Fransisco. The article, whose title is “E Pur Si Muove” (Italian for “and yet it moves”, a quote by Galileo Galilei) was published on Altman’s blog. In the blog, he said that San Fransisco’s social climate was not kind towards free speech and caused smart people to leave the area. He also stated that he was more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing, China, than in San Francisco. Altman suggested that allowing “offensive remarks” might be necessary to develop new ideas. He said,
This is uncomfortable, but it’s possible we have to allow people to say disparaging things about gay people if we want them to be able to say novel things about physics. Of course we can and should say that ideas are mistaken, but we can’t just call the person a heretic. We need to debate the actual idea. Sam Altman
While several agreed with his views, Altman received a lot of public backlash on social media, where people accused him of being insensitive and of being a rich person who was out of touch with the real world. In response to the backlash he faced, Sam put out a clarification on his blog, where he mentioned that he made his point in an “inelegant” manner. He said that he wasn’t supporting homophobia, but asking people to tolerate controversial opinions and have discussions about them. Sam Altman
Supporting Peter Thiel
Sam Altman is against Donald Trump’s policies and has called them racist and anti-immigrant> He even compared Trump to Hitler. Altman has actively participated in protests against Trump’s ban on Muslim immigrants.
— Sam Altman (@sama) January 29, 2017
However, in 2017, Altman received criticism from the public when he refused to end his business partnership with Peter Thiel, a close associate and supporter of Trump. Thiel, a billionaire and Facebook board member defended Trump’s controversial Muslim ban and supports Trump financially. Altman and Thiel are reported to be close friends. Despite calls for Y Combinator to distance itself from Thiel due to his support for Trump, Altman refused to do so. Altman supported Thiel even though he stated in his blog that he would cut ties with Peter if he made statements as Trump did. Sam Altman However, Altman put out a series of tweets where he mentioned that cutting ties with Peter for supporting Trump would lead to a “dangerous path”.
3) Thiel is a high profile supporter of Trump. I disagree with this. YC is not going to fire someone for supporting a major party nominee.
— Sam Altman (@sama) October 17, 2016
Open AI Controversy
On 17 November 2023, OpenAI’s board of directors removed CEO Sam Altman. They put out a statement mentioning the reason was his lack of consistent honesty with the directors. Altman considered publicly apologising for misrepresenting board members’ views during discussions about a director’s removal, but the board was concerned that this could simplify the firing to a single incident. The board’s decision was based on concerns about Altman’s strategic operations and a lack of transparency in communications. The board didn’t provide a detailed reasoning for Altman’s removal but mentioned that an independent investigation was being conducted and that the decision was a result of months spent evaluating Altman’s leadership. A few days after Altman was fired, the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, made a public statement where he said Altman would be hired as the chief executive of their AI research lab.
Altman’s conversations with board members, where he allegedly misrepresented views and manipulated discussions, contributed to the decision to remove him. Workers at OpenAI stated that Altman was misleading, deceptive, and manipulative. However, after Altman was fired, the senior leadership team of OpenAI supported his return as CEO. After he was removed, almost all of the workforce of OpenAI signed a letter threatening to quit unless he was reinstated. In the time that Altman was fired, OpenAI appointed two interim CEOs. On 21 November 2023, Altman was reinstated, leading to resignations from board members Helen Toner and Tasha McCauley who were against Altman being reinstated.
Awards & Honours
- In 2008, the Bloomberg Businessweek magazine named Sam Altman one of the Best Young Entrepreneurs in Technology.
- In 2015, Altman was named the top investor under 30 by Forbes Magazine.
- Altman started playing poker in college and credited the game for teaching him more than he learnt in college.
- In 2017, Sam Altman received an honourary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
- In 2023, the government of Indonesia issued Altman with a 10-year border pass, also called the golden visa.
- Sam Altman was named CEO of the Year by Time Magazine and included in the list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2023.
Sam Altman’s car collection includes the McLaren F1, a first-generation Tesla Roadster, and the Lexus LFA.
- Sam Altman’s favourite AI-themed film is Her (2013).
- Altman set up his first business when he was 12 years old. He sold baseball cards online.
- Sam Altman came out as gay when he was studying at the John Burroughs School at the age of 17. He advocated for safe spaces in the classrooms to support gay students.
- Sam Altman follows a vegetarian diet. He avoids eating sweets, junk food and spicy food. He also drinks alcohol.
- Altman’s first computer, at the age of 8, was an Apple Mac LC2.
- Altman shares his birthday with theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer.
- Although Altman has an expensive car collection, he prefers taking an Uber over driving his cars to be cost-effective.
- As of January 2024, Sam Altman has 2.5 million followers on Twitter (now known as X).
- Sam Altman is an avid reader.
- On a podcast with Bill Gates, Altman mentioned that the application he uses the most on his phone is Slack, a cloud-based team communication platform. GatesNotes
- In Bill Gates’ podcast episode, Altman mentioned that he likes music with no words while working. One of his favourite records is The New Four Seasons – Vivaldi Recomposed by Max Richter. GatesNotes
- Altman aims to develop Artificial General Intelligence (AGI – human-like intelligence software that can self-teach) for the betterment of society.
- Altman is a “prepper”, someone who prepares for emergencies (natural disasters, social/civil/economic crises) by stocking up on essentials. In an interview in 2016, Altman said,
I try not to think about it too much. But I have guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, gas masks from the Israeli Defense Force, and a big patch of land in Big Sur I can fly to.” The New Yorker