OpenAI's Venture Fund Shifts Control from Sam Altman to Ian Hathaway

Initially backed by $175 million in commitments last year, the OpenAI Startup Fund has now grown to hold $325 million in gross net asset value, as per an SEC filing.

OpenAI's Venture Fund Shifts Control from Sam Altman to Ian Hathaway
Photo by Mariia Shalabaieva / Unsplash

OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, no longer holds ownership or control over a venture capital fund linked to the company, as per recent disclosures filed with the SEC. This modification was outlined in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dated March 29.

The OpenAI Startup Fund operates similarly to a standard corporate venture capital fund but has drawn attention due to its unconventional governance structure. Despite garnering commitments totaling $175 million by May last year, including contributions from Microsoft, the fund now reports a gross asset value exceeding $325 million.

The change comes in response to scrutiny surrounding Altman's unusual ownership of the OpenAI Startup Fund. Despite being presented as a corporate venture arm, the fund was raised by Altman from external limited partners, with him making investment decisions. Although Altman claimed he had no financial interest in the fund, questions arose regarding its governance.

Ian Hathaway, who joined OpenAI in 2021, has been instrumental in managing the Startup Fund and overseeing investments in various AI-driven startups, including Ambience Healthcare, Cursor, Harvey, and Speak. Prior to joining OpenAI, Hathaway worked as an investor at Haystack.

OpenAI explained that Hathaway has been instrumental in supervising the fund's accelerator program and spearheading investments in companies like Harvey, Cursor, Speak, and Ambience Healthcare. Additionally, the company clarified that the fund's original general partner (GP) setup was deemed temporary and did not involve any personal investment or financial stake from Sam Altman.

The shift in control to Hathaway show OpenAI's commitment to transparency and operational clarity regarding its venture capital endeavors.