Sam Altman

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Sam Altman
Sam Altman in 2009.jpg
Altman in 2009
Samuel H. Altman

(1985-04-22) April 22, 1985 (age 34)
ResidenceSan Francisco, California, US[1]
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materStanford University (dropped out)
Known forLoopt, Y Combinator, OpenAI
TitleCEO of OpenAI LP and former President of Y Combinator Edit this at Wikidata

Samuel H. "Sam" Altman (/ˈɔːltmən/; born April 22, 1985) is an American entrepreneur, investor, programmer, and blogger.[2] He is the chairman of Y Combinator and co-chairman of OpenAI.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Altman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri; his mother was a dermatologist. He received his first computer at the age of 8.[5] He was raised Jewish.[6] He attended John Burroughs School for high school and studied computer science at Stanford University until dropping out in 2005.[7] While studying at Stanford, he worked in the AI Lab.[8] In 2017 he received an honorary degree from the University of Waterloo.[9]



In 2005, at age 19,[10] Altman co-founded and became CEO of Loopt,[11] a location-based social networking mobile application. After raising more than $30M in venture capital, Loopt was shut down in 2012 after failing to get traction. It was acquired by the Green Dot Corporation for $43.4 million.[12][13]

Y Combinator[edit]

Altman began as a part-time partner at Y Combinator in 2011.[8][14] In February 2014, Altman was named president of Y Combinator by its cofounder Paul Graham.[15][16] His first batch of investments included Loopt. In a 2014 blog post, Altman said that the total valuation of Y Combinator companies had surpassed $65 billion, including well-known companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, Zenefits and Stripe.[17] In September 2016, Altman announced that he would become president of YC Group, which includes Y Combinator and other units.[18]

Altman has said that he hopes to expand Y Combinator to fund 1,000 new companies per year. He has also tried to expand the types of companies funded by YC, especially 'hard technology' companies.[19]

In October 2015, Altman announced YC Continuity, a $700 million growth-stage equity fund that invests in YC companies.[20] Also in October 2015, Altman announced Y Combinator Research, a non-profit research lab, and donated $10 million to the group.[21] YC Research has thus far announced research on basic income, the future of computing, education, and building new cities.[22]

Altman was named the top investor under 30 by Forbes in 2015,[23] one of the "Best Young Entrepreneurs in Technology" by BusinessWeek in 2008[24] and listed as one of the five most interesting startup founders between 1979 and 2009 by his colleague Paul Graham.[25]

In March 2019, YC announced Altman's transitioning into a Chairman position to focus more on OpenAI.[14]

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, Reserve, Vicarious, Clever, Notable PDF[26][27] and[28]

He was the CEO of Reddit for eight days in 2014 after CEO Yishan Wong resigned.[29] 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.[30]

Nuclear energy[edit]

He is chairman of the board for Helion and Oklo, two nuclear energy companies. He has said that nuclear energy is one of the most important areas of technological development.[31]


Altman and Elon Musk were the co-chairmen of OpenAI. OpenAI is a for profit research company whose goal is to advance digital intelligence in a way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, rather than cause harm.[32]


In fall 2014, Altman taught a class at Stanford University called "How To Start a Startup". Guest lecturers included Dustin Moskovitz, 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. He currently teaches Y Combinator Startup School, a 10-week course featuring guests including Stewart Butterfield, Adam D'Angelo, and Dustin Moskovitz.[33]


Altman occasionally posts to his blog, mostly about startups and technology.[34]

He also wrote Startup Playbook, a distillation of advice that Y Combinator gives to its startups.[35]


  1. ^ "Sam Altman". CrunchBase. TechCrunch. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  2. ^ "Sam Altman". Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  3. ^ Graham, Paul (April 24, 2014). "Sam Altman for President". Y Combinator. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  4. ^ "OpenAI". Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  5. ^ Junod, Tom (December 18, 2014). "How Venture Capitalists Find Opportunities in the Future". Esquire. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  6. ^ "Sam Altman's Manifest Destiny". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  7. ^ "People". Y Combinator. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Sam Altman - President, YC Group @ Y Combinator | Crunchbase". Crunchbase. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  9. ^ "Spring 2017 honorary and award recipients". Registrar's Office. University of Waterloo. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  10. ^ Ankeny, Jason (April 25, 2015). "Meet Y Combinator's Bold Whiz Kid Boss". Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "Executives". Loopt. Archived from the original on February 16, 2012. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  12. ^ "Startup Loopt Lands with Green Dot". Wall Street Journal. March 9, 2012. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
  13. ^ "Sam Altman: Why customer love is all you need | Masters of Scale podcast". WaitWhat. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  14. ^ a b "Y Combinator president Sam Altman is stepping down amid a series of changes at the accelerator". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  15. ^ "Garry Tan Says Goodbye to Y Combinator". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  16. ^ Graham, Paul (April 24, 2014). "Sam Altman for President". Y Combinator. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  17. ^ "YC Stats". Y Combinator. August 26, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  18. ^ Altman, Sam. "YC Changes". Y Combinator. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  19. ^ "Y Combinator President Sam Altman is Dreaming Big". Fast Company. April 16, 2015. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  20. ^ "YC Continuity". Y Combinator. October 15, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
    - "YC Continuity". VentureBeat. October 15, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  21. ^ "YC Research". Y Combinator. October 7, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  22. ^ "Y Combinator Research". YC Research. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  23. ^ "Forbes' 30 Under 30 2015: Venture Capital". Forbes. January 5, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  24. ^ "Tech's Best Young Entrepreneurs". BusinessWeek. April 18, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2009.
  25. ^ Graham, Paul (April 2009). "Five Founders". Retrieved April 19, 2009.
  26. ^ Altman, Sam. "Angel List". Angel List. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  27. ^ "How Notable PDF built an annotation tool for PDFs on the web". 2017-04-05. Archived from the original on 2017-04-05. Retrieved 2018-03-26.
  28. ^ " - Investors | CrunchBase". CrunchBase. Retrieved 3 August 2016.
  29. ^ "A New Team At Reddit". Sam Altman. November 13, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  30. ^ "An Old Team At Reddit". reddit. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  31. ^ "Energy". Sam Altman. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  32. ^ "OpenAI". Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  33. ^ "STARTUP SCHOOL BY Y COMBINATOR". Startup School. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  34. ^
  35. ^ Altman, Sam. Startup Playbook. Gregory Koberger.

External links[edit]