Sam Altman

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Sam Altman
Sam Altman in 2009.jpg
Born Samuel H. Altman
(1985-04-22) April 22, 1985 (age 31)
Chicago, Illinois
Residence San Francisco, California[1]
Nationality American
Alma mater Stanford University (dropped out)
Occupation Venture capitalist
Known for Loopt, Y Combinator
Title President of Y Combinator
Website Sam Altman's blog

Samuel H. "Sam" Altman (born April 22, 1985) is an American entrepreneur, programmer, venture capitalist and blogger.[2] He is the president of Y Combinator and co-chairman of OpenAI.

Early life and education[edit]

Altman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where he received his first computer at the age of 8.[3] He attended John Burroughs School and studied computer science at Stanford University until dropping out in 2005.[4]



At age 19,[5] Altman was a co-founder and CEO of Loopt,[6] a location-based social networking mobile application. Loopt was acquired in 2012 by Green Dot Corporation for $43.4 million.[7]

Y Combinator[edit]

In 2014, Altman was named president of Y Combinator, which he had been a part of as a founder in the first batch of funded companies in 2005.[8] In a 2014 blog post, Altman stated that the total valuation of all Y Combinator companies had surpassed $65 billion, including well-known companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, Zenefits and Stripe.[9]

Altman has said that he hopes to expand Y Combinator so that it eventually funds 1,000 new companies per year. He has also made an effort to expand the types of companies funded by YC, especially 'hard technology' companies.[10]

In October 2015, Altman announced YC Continuity, a $700 million growth-stage equity fund that invests in YC companies.[11] Also in October 2015, Altman announced Y Combinator Research, a non-profit research lab, and donated $10 million to the group.[12] YC Research has thus far announced research on basic income, the future of computing, education, and building new cities.[13]

Altman was named the top investor under 30 by Forbes in 2015,[14] one of the "Best Young Entrepreneurs in Technology" by BusinessWeek in 2008[15] and listed as one of the five most interesting startup founders between 1979 and 2009 by his colleague Paul Graham.[16]

Angel Investing[edit]

He is a personal investor in many companies, including Airbnb, Stripe, Reddit, Asana, Pinterest, Teespring, Zenefits, FarmLogs, Shoptiques, Instacart, Optimizely, Verbling, Soylent, Vicarious, Clever, Notable PDF[17][18] and[19]

He was the CEO of Reddit for 8 days in 2014 after the then-CEO, Yishan Wong, resigned.[20] As part of his investment, he developed a new way for the community to own part of the company. He announced the return of Steve Huffman as CEO on July 10, 2015.[21]

Nuclear energy[edit]

He is chairman of the board for Helion and Oklo, two nuclear energy companies. He has stated a belief that nuclear energy is one of the most important technological developments for the future.[22]


Altman and Elon Musk are the co-chairmen of OpenAI. The goal of OpenAI is to advance digital intelligence in a way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.[23]


In fall 2015, he taught a class at Stanford University called "How To Start a Startup". Guest lectures included Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Adora Cheung, Alex Schultz, Marc Andreessen, Ron Conway, Carolynn Levy, Kirsty Nathoo, Ben Horowitz, Brian Chesky, Alfred Lin, Aaron Levie, Reid Hoffman, Kevin Hale, Ben Silbermann and Emmett Shear.


Altman occasionally posts to his blog, mostly about startups and technology.

He also wrote Startup Playbook, a distillation of advice that Y Combinator gives to its startups.


  1. ^ "Sam Altman". CrunchBase. TechCrunch. Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "Sam Altman". Retrieved December 15, 2015. 
  3. ^ Junod, Tom (December 18, 2014). "How Venture Capitalists Find Opportunities in the Future". Esquire. Retrieved December 15, 2015. 
  4. ^ "People". Y Combinator. Retrieved December 15, 2015. 
  5. ^ Ankeny, Jason (April 25, 2015). "Meet Y Combinator's Bold Whiz Kid Boss". Retrieved December 15, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Executives". Loopt. Archived from the original on February 16, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Startup Loopt Lands with Green Dot". Wall Street Journal. March 9, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  8. ^ Graham, Paul (April 24, 2014). "Sam Altman for President". Y Combinator. Retrieved December 15, 2015. 
  9. ^ "YC Stats". Y Combinator. August 26, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Y Combinator President Sam Altman is Dreaming Big". Fast Company. April 16, 2015. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  11. ^ "YC Continuity". Y Combinator. October 15, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015. 
    - "YC Continuity". VentureBeat. October 15, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015. 
  12. ^ "YC Research". Y Combinator. October 7, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Y Combinator Research". YC Research. Retrieved 3 August 2016. 
  14. ^ "Forbes' 30 Under 30 2015: Venture Capital". Forbes. January 5, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Tech's Best Young Entrepreneurs". BusinessWeek. April 18, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  16. ^ Graham, Paul (April 2009). "Five Founders". Retrieved April 19, 2009. 
  17. ^ Altman, Sam. "Angel List". Angel List. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  18. ^ Forrest, Conner. "How Notable PDF built an annotation tool for PDFs on the web". Yahoo! Tech. Yahoo!. Retrieved April 20, 2015. 
  19. ^ " - Investors | CrunchBase". CrunchBase. Retrieved 3 August 2016. 
  20. ^ "A New Team At Reddit". Sam Altman. November 13, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2015. 
  21. ^ "An Old Team At Reddit". reddit. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Energy". Sam Altman. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  23. ^ "OpenAI". Retrieved December 15, 2015. 

External links[edit]