Sam Altman

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Sam Altman

Samuel H. "Sam" Altman (born April 22, 1985) is an entrepreneur, programmer, venture capitalist and blogger.[1] He is the President of Y Combinator and co-chairman of OpenAI.

Early life and education[edit]

Altman grew up in the Midwest, received his first computer aged 8,[2] and studied computer science at Stanford University until dropping out in 2005.[3]



At age 19,[4] Altman was a co-founder and CEO of Loopt,[5] a location-based social networking mobile application. Loopt was acquired in 2012 by Green Dot Corporation for $43.4 million.[6]

Y Combinator[edit]

In 2014, Altman was named president of Y Combinator[7] the most commercially successful seed-stage accelerator.[8]

Altman announced in a 2014 blog post 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 stated that he hopes to grow Y Combinator so that it eventually funds 1,000 new companies per year. He has also increased the types of companies funded by YC, especially on so-called "hard technology" companies.[10]

In July 2015, Altman announced the YC Fellowship, a new program to give grants of $12,000 and advice to very early-stage startups.[11]

In October 2015, Altman announced YC Continuity, a $700 million growth-stage equity fund that invests in YC companies.[12][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]

Pre-YC angel investing[edit]

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

He was the CEO of reddit for 8 days in 2014 after the then-CEO Yishan Wong resigned.[19] 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.[20]

Nuclear Energy[edit]

He is Chairman of the Board for Helion and uPower, two nuclear energy companies. He has stated a belief that nuclear energy is one of the most important technological developments for the future.[21]


In the Fall of 2015, he taught a class at Stanford University called "How To Start a Startup" that was widely distributed online.

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". Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  2. ^ Junod, Tom (2014-12-18). "How Venture Capitalists Find Opportunities in the Future". Esquire. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  3. ^ "People". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  4. ^ Ankeny, Jason (2015-04-25). "Meet Y Combinator's Bold Whiz Kid Boss". Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  5. ^ "Executives". Loopt. Archived from the original on 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  6. ^ "Startup Loopt Lands with Green Dot". Wall Street Journal. 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2012-03-13. 
  7. ^ Graham, Paul (2014-04-21). "Sam Altman for President". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  8. ^ "Top Startup Incubators And Accelerators: Y Combinator Tops With $7.8 Billion In Value". Forbes. 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  9. ^ "YC Stats". Y Combinator. 2015-08-26. Retrieved 2015-12-19. 
  10. ^ "Y Combinator President Sam Altman is Dreaming Big". Fast Company. 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2015-07-22. 
  11. ^ "YC Fellowship". Y Combinator. 2015-07-21. Retrieved 2015-07-22. 
  12. ^ "YC Continuity". Y Combinator. 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2015-12-19. 
  13. ^ "YC Continuity". VentureBeat. 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2015-12-19. 
  14. ^ "Forbes' 30 Under 30 2015: Venture Capital". Forbes. January 5, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Tech’s Best Young Entrepreneurs". BusinessWeek. 2008-04-18. Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  16. ^ Graham, Paul (April 2009). "Five Founders". Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  17. ^ Altman, Sam. "Angel List". Angel List. Angel List. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  18. ^ Forrest, Conner. "How Notable PDF built an annotation tool for PDFs on the web". Yahoo! Tech. Yahoo!. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  19. ^ "A New Team At Reddit". Sam Altman. 2014-11-13. Retrieved 2015-02-13. 
  20. ^ "An Old Team At Reddit". reddit. Retrieved 2015-07-13. 
  21. ^ "Energy". Sam Altman. Retrieved 2015-07-13. 

External links[edit]