Samuel Harris Altman (/ˈɔːltmən/AWLT-mən; born April 22, 1985) is an American entrepreneur and investor. He is the CEO of OpenAI and was the co-founder of Loopt. He previously was the president of Y Combinator and was briefly the CEO of Reddit.
What is Sam Altman’s Net Worth?
Sam Altman is an entrepreneur, programmer, investor and blogger who has a net worth of $500 million. Sam Altman is best known as the CEO of the artificial intelligence research laboratory OpenAI, and the former president of the technology startup accelerator Y Combinator. Altman is also known as a major angel investor, having invested in such companies as Asana, Zenefits, Instacart, Soylent, and Airbnb. Sam Altman first achieved billionaire status in January 2023 after OpenAI completed a fund raising round with Microsoft that valued the AI company behind ChatGPT at $29 billion. Interestingly, in March 2023 it was revealed that Sam Altman did not take any equity in OpenAI. That presumably means he did not benefit significantly from the company’s exploding private valuation.
Early life and education
Altman is Jewish, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother is a dermatologist. He received his first computer at the age of eight, an Apple Macintosh. Altman’s “childhood idol” was Steve Jobs. He attended John Burroughs School. In 2005, after one year at Stanford University studying computer science, he dropped out without earning a bachelor’s degree.
In 2005, at the age of 19, Altman co-founded Loopt, a location-based social networking mobile application. As CEO, Altman raised more than $30 million in venture capital for the company; however, Loopt failed to gain traction with enough users. In March 2012, it was acquired by the Green Dot Corporation for $43.4 million. The following month, Altman co-founded Hydrazine Capital with his brother, Jack Altman. Altman got scurvy during his work on Loopt.
Altman became a partner at Y Combinator in 2011, initially working there on a part-time basis. In February 2014, Altman was named president of Y Combinator by its co-founder, Paul Graham. In a 2014 blog post, Altman said that the total valuation of Y Combinator companies had surpassed $65 billion, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Zenefits, and Stripe. In September 2016, Altman announced his expanded role as president of YC Group, which included Y Combinator and other units.
Altman said that he hoped to expand Y Combinator to fund 1,000 new companies per year. He also tried to expand the types of companies funded by YC, especially “hard technology” companies.
In October 2015, Altman announced YC Continuity, a $700 million equity fund investing in YC companies as they matured. A week earlier, Altman had introduced Y Combinator Research, a non-profit research lab, and donated $10 million to fund it. YC Research has thus far announced research on basic income, the future of computing, education, and building new cities.
In March 2019, YC announced Altman’s transition from the president of the company to a less hands-on role as Chairman of the Board, for him to focus on OpenAI. This decision came shortly after YC announced it would be moving its headquarters to San Francisco. As of early 2020, he is no longer affiliated with YC.
By 2020, Sam Altman had left Y Combinator to focus full-time on OpenAI as CEO. OpenAI was initially funded by Altman, Greg Brockman, Elon Musk, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Infosys, and YC Research. When OpenAI launched in 2015, it had raised $1 billion.
Altman testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law on 16 May 2023 about issues of AI oversight.
Altman co-founded Tools For Humanity in 2019, a company building a global iris-based biometric system using cryptocurrency, called Worldcoin. Worldcoin aims to provide a reliable way to authenticate humans online, to counter bots and fake virtual identities facilitated by artificial intelligence. Using a distribution mechanism for its cryptocurrency similar to UBI, Worldcoin attempts to incentivize users to join its network by getting their iris scanned using Worldcoin’s orb-shaped iris scanner.
Altman invests in technology startups and nuclear energy companies. Some of his portfolio companies include Airbnb, Stripe and Retro Biosciences.He is also chairman of the board for Helion and Oklo, two nuclear energy companies.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Altman helped fund and create Project Covalence to help researchers rapidly launch clinical trials in partnership with TrialSpark, a clinical trial startup.
Recode reported that Altman might run for Governor of California in the 2018 election, which he did not enter. In 2018, Altman announced “The United Slate”, a political project to improve housing and healthcare policy.
In 2019, Altman held a fundraiser at his house in San Francisco for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. In May 2020, Altman donated $250,000 to American Bridge 21st Century, a super-PAC supporting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
After the success of ChatGPT, Altman made a world tour in May 2023 where he visited 22 countries and met multiple leaders and diplomats:
He met with British prime minister Rishi Sunak, French president Emmanuel Macron, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez, German chancellor Olaf Scholz, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol, and Israeli president Isaac Herzog. He stood for a photo with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
Altman has been a vegetarian since childhood. He is gay and dated Loopt co-founder Nick Sivo for nine years; they broke up shortly after the company was acquired in 2012. As of 2023, his partner is Oliver Mulherin, an Australian software engineer. Altman lives in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood and owns a weekend home in Napa, California.
Altman is a prepper. He said in 2016: “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.”
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.
In 2017, Altman received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo for supporting companies through its Velocity entrepreneurship program. Later that year, GLAAD recognized Altman with the Ric Weiland Award for promoting LGBTQ equality and acceptance in the tech sector.
Altman was in 2023 the first person to obtain a golden visa to Indonesia.