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OpenAI eliminates Sam Altman’s ownership stake in its startup fund

OpenAI has modified the governance structure of its venture capital fund supporting AI startups, resulting in its high-profile CEO, Sam Altman, no longer possessing ownership or control over the fund. This adjustment was disclosed in a filing submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 29.

The alteration, outlined in the filing, was prompted by concerns surrounding Altman’s ownership of the OpenAI Startup Fund, which attracted attention due to its unconventional setup. Despite resembling a corporate venture arm, the fund was raised by Altman from external limited partners, and he was responsible for making investment decisions. OpenAI clarified that Altman did not have a financial stake in the fund despite his ownership.

The ownership change was initially reported by Axios on Monday. In response, an OpenAI spokesperson stated that the fund’s original structure with Altman as the general partner (GP) was temporary, and the recent adjustment aimed to provide greater transparency.

The OpenAI Startup Fund, which has amassed $175 million from partners like Microsoft, does not count OpenAI itself as an investor.

Control of the fund has now been transferred to Ian Hathaway, who has been a partner at the fund since 2021, as indicated in the filing. Altman will no longer serve as a general partner. Hathaway has been involved in overseeing the fund’s accelerator program and leading investments in companies such as Harvey, Cursor, and Ambience Healthcare.

Altman, previously a president at startup accelerator Y Combinator, has attracted attention for his extensive investment interests outside of OpenAI, including ventures in the crypto space with Worldcoin and fusion energy with Helion Energy, as well as fundraising activities in the Middle East.

Following Altman’s abrupt departure from OpenAI in November, an independent investigation was conducted to assess any potential misconduct related to product safety or OpenAI’s financial matters. The investigation concluded that Altman did not engage in any wrongdoing.

In summary, OpenAI’s restructuring of its venture capital fund marks a significant shift in its governance, removing Sam Altman’s ownership and control while entrusting management to Ian Hathaway. This adjustment aims to enhance transparency and clarity in the fund’s operations and investment decisions.

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