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OpenAI Replaces Sam Altman as Manager of Corporate Venture Fund

OpenAI Replaces Sam Altman as Manager of Corporate Venture Fund

OpenAI, the prominent AI research organization, has undergone a significant change in leadership regarding its corporate venture fund, as revealed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, has been removed as the owner and manager of the fund, with Ian Hathaway set to assume the managerial role, Axios reported on Monday.

Ian Hathaway, a partner in the fund since its inception in 2021, has already played a pivotal role in the fund’s operations, leading investments in startups such as Harvey, which develops AI tools for attorneys, and Speak, a language learning app.

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The decision to transition management responsibilities from Altman to Hathaway marks a notable shift in the fund’s governance. Altman is no longer listed as a general partner in the fund, signaling a departure from his previous role.

In response to inquiries, OpenAI clarified, “As previously communicated, the fund’s initial GP structure was a temporary arrangement, and involved no personal investment or financial interest from Sam. This change provides further clarity.”

The fund, marketed as a corporate venture fund, possesses a unique governing structure. While such funds typically invest a company’s resources in startups and are managed by a third party, the OpenAI fund’s money was raised by Altman through OpenAI partners, including Microsoft, and managed directly by Altman. Notably, OpenAI itself is not an investor, according to information available on the fund’s website.

With a focus on early-stage startups in various sectors including healthcare, law, education, energy & infrastructure, and the sciences, the fund aims to invest $175 million. Presently, it controls assets valued at $325 million, according to Axios.

Altman, renowned for his diverse investments beyond OpenAI, including ventures like Helion Energy in fusion power and the contentious Worldcoin cryptocurrency, recently netted $30 million from Reddit’s initial public offering in March.

Backstory: OpenAI’s Turbulent Leadership Crisis

The recent reshuffling of leadership at OpenAI, marked by Altman’s regaining of his director seat, is the culmination of a turbulent period that began last November. Altman, a pivotal figure in the development of its flagship ChatGPT technology, found himself abruptly removed from his CEO position and ousted from the board amidst internal upheaval.

The events unfolded swiftly, leaving the tech community bewildered and speculating about the underlying reasons for Altman’s sudden removal. However, within days, Altman was reinstated to his CEO role, albeit with lingering questions surrounding the circumstances of his dismissal and subsequent reinstatement.

Central to the resolution of the crisis was an internal investigation commissioned by select board members and conducted by the law firm WilmerHale. The investigation unearthed a breakdown in trust that led to Altman’s initial removal, yet concluded that his conduct did not warrant such drastic action. This revelation provided the impetus for Altman’s reinstatement and offered a semblance of closure to the tumultuous chapter in OpenAI’s history.

In his remarks to the press, Altman expressed relief that the ordeal was finally behind him and emphasized the importance of moving forward with a unified vision. He lamented the attempts by certain individuals to undermine OpenAI’s mission through leaked information to the press, signaling a desire to rebuild trust and focus on the organization’s core objectives.

It is not clear if there is another reason besides what the AI company has disclosed, responsible for the decision to remove Altman from his position as the head of the fund.

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