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Published on April 02, 2024
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Steps Down from Startup Fund, Ian Hathaway Takes the Helm Amid Governance RevisionsSource: TechCrunch, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In a significant shake-up within the AI powerhouse OpenAI, CEO Sam Altman has relinquished ownership and control of its venture capital fund set up to bolster AI startups. Documents filed with the SEC on March 29 confirm that Altman's role as a general partner in the OpenAI Startup Fund has concluded, handing the reins over to Ian Hathaway.

Hathaway, involved with the fund since its inception in 2021, is taking charge amidst scrutiny over the fund's governance. Affiliated to OpenAI as a key player, Hathaway has carved out a name for himself by steering the fund's accelerator program, and leading investments in companies including Harvey, Cursor, and Ambience Healthcare, reported Axios. Consequently, raising questions about the fund's structure, Altman personally gathered outside limited partners and had the final word on investment decisions.

The OpenAI Startup Fund has been touted as working parallels to a corporate venture arm with significant backing, ascribing $175 million of its funds from partners like tech giant Microsoft. Interestingly, while OpenAI is aligned closely with the Startup Fund, it does not invest directly in it, as detailed in a filing exposed by Reuters.

On the backdrop of last November's corporate drama which saw Altman ousted from the company, OpenAI conducted an independent investigation, subsequently clearing his name of any wrongdoing related to product safety or company finances. Marketed similar to a corporate venture arm, the decision to change the governance structure removes Altman's ownership, noted a spokesperson for OpenAI in a statement obtained by Axios, emphasizing that "this change provides further clarity." Notably, Altman's diverse investment portfolio and fundraising efforts have drawn attention in the past, from crypto endeavors to his involvement in the energy sector.