The Plain AIAI newsletter and blog to learn about the latest updates and technology in artificial intelligence | Get info on AI companies, get smarter about AI The Plain AI 2023-01-09 8 min read

Who is Sam Altman? Uncovering the Life of Tech Magnate and OpenAI Co-Founder

If you are familiar with the ever-changing world of technology, you’ve surely heard of OpenAI. If you’ve not, roll the rock you’ve been living under and check out this explanation of OpenAI before continuing. This is a company disrupting the world of artificial intelligence with mind-blowing AI tools like Dall-E, OpenAI gym, and ChatGPT. But who is the brain behind OpenAI?

This piece helps you find out how Sam Altman went from being a Stanford dropout and having a failed business to becoming the mastermind of OpenAI. We discuss his background, age, career, salary, and fortune.

Sam Altman’s Early Life

According to Wikipedia, 37-year-old Sam Altman was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 22, 1985. But he spent most of his early life in St. Louis, Missouri, with his brother, Jack Altman, now CEO and co-founder of Lattice.

His childhood might have influenced his interest in tech. He developed a strong passion for programming at the early age of eight when he was given a personal computer. He is a successful programmer, owning and running a thriving tech company. Sam’s education began at John Burroughs High School, where he finished before moving to Stanford University to study computer science.

Sam Altman Vegan?

Yes, Sam Altman is a vegetarian. He has adopted this lifestyle choice since he was a child and there’s no doubt it is working for him quite well.

Sam Altman’s Wife/ Partner

At the moment, Sam does not have a wife. Many have said he’s focused on his business and he’s too busy to get a wife, but that’s all speculation. One thing that isn’t speculation, however, is that Sam came out as gay a while back. He dated his co-founder at Loopt, Nick Sivo. His relationship with Nick lasted about 9 years. This relationship ended a while after the company got acquired.

Sam Altman’s College Education - Stanford Dropout

A popular memoir writer jokingly said the path to success as a tech founder is to get into Stanford and then drop out. This is also the case with Sama. In 2005, Sam Altman realized that his dreams were more significant than the four walls of the classroom. So, he made a bold move; he dropped out of Stanford to commit to Loopt, his dream at the time. The Loopt project ultimately failed, but he didn’t give up. In recognition of his illustrious career which continues to blossom, Sam Altman was granted an honorary degree, in 2017, from the University of Waterloo.

Sam Altman’s Professional Life and Entrepreneurial Journey

Sam’s case typifies the saying, there are several paths to success. We have mapped out his career so far.

Building Loopt

Loopt was born in 2004, Sam’s first attempt at entrepreneurship, at 19. Loopt, his first start-up, is a location-based interpersonal application, put, a social media platform. His application’s outset was raising 30 million dollars in funding from investors and start-up accelerators, like Y Combinator. But this was when companies like Twitter were significant players in the scene. Loopt’s failure was inevitable from inception. Then in March 2012, the Green Dot Corporation took the application off his hands, buying it for 43.4 million dollars.

Sam Altman at Y Combinator

In 2011, while handling Loopt on the one hand, Sam Altman started spending some of his time at Y Combinator. He started working there part-time before committing his time to work with them full-time, especially with Loopt off his hands. Y Combinator is a start-up accelerator estimated to be worth 65 billion dollars, aimed at funding start-ups and getting them into the best shape possible. After a streak of remarkable performance at Y Combinator, YC’s co-founder, Paul Graham, appointed Sam as president of the company.

As president, one of Sam’s first investments was into Loopt, his start-up. Then, in 2016, Altman announced that he was President of YC Group, a group of companies including Y Combinator and its sister companies. Also, as president, he established two new sister companies under YC Group-

  1. YC Continuity: A branch of YC Group centered around putting resources into YC beneficiary companies.
  2. YC Research: A company dedicated to empowering innovations and next-generation technology. This aspect of business mainly involves investing in start-ups and helping them scale their businesses. Sam personally invested 10 million dollars into this research lab. While Sam Altman was president, Stripe, Zenefits, Dropbox, and Airbnb were among the beneficiary companies of Y Combinator’s funding. As of 2020, he was recorded to have no involvement with Y Combinator any longer. But most of the growth of YC Group is attributed to him.

Sam Altman’s Angel Investing

Aside from his work with YC Group, Sam is an avid angel investor. If a product has the “Sam Stamp”, it has a relatively high chance of success. As president of a start-up accelerator and a start-up founder, he unsurprisingly had eyes for start-up projects with potential. As a result, he invested in many companies that are still successful and dominating today’s market. His investment portfolio includes companies like:

  • Airbnb,
  • Pinterest,
  • Asana,
  • Reddit, and many more. His investments have no limits, and he even spread his wings into the nuclear energy sector. He is known for his involvement with nuclear energy companies like Helion and Oklo. He believes nuclear energy is an essential factor in the advancement of technology. These intelligent investments got him the top spot on Forbes’ list of investors under 30.

Sam Altman- Co-Founder of OpenAI

Sam Altman co-founded OpenAI with Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, PayPal, and The Boring Company, among many others. The coming together of a serial tech investor and a serial entrepreneur birthed one of the most advanced AI companies today. Sam Altman’s OpenAI was established to research the growth of digital intelligence. Since its launch in 2015, OpenAI has been successful, generating 1 billion dollars in funding from outside investors. True to their word, as of 2023, OpenAI has implemented useful ground-breaking AI technology like ChatGPT, Dall-E2, and Whistle.

Sam Altman and Nuclear Energy

Sam is extremely passionate about nuclear energy as a means of non-renewable source of energy. He talks about Helion, a project that has been in the works for 8 years now. He strongly believes in the project, perhaps, as much as he believes in OpenAI. In addition, he also had ties to Oklo- a startup that uses advanced fission to generate electricity.

Sam Altman Net Worth

How rich is Sam? Extremely wealthy! In fact, he’s wealthy enough to just retire to an island and never have to work again. In numbers, Sam Altman’s net worth is estimated to be between 250 million dollars and 2 billion dollars. This depends on who you ask. The most recent estimate of Sam’s wealth, however, shows that his worth is closer to 250 million than 2 billion dollars. Still, he’s a very wealthy guy.

Learning from Sam Altman

When you have achieved as much as Sam Altman, the next best thing to do is raise another generation of achievers like yourself. This is precisely what Sam is doing. A lot of the work done at the company is open source- a truly altruistic gesture.

Sam Altman’s Blog

He also has the Sam Altman blog, where he talks about products and the market; he also tries to teach upcoming entrepreneurs how to navigate the tech market for efficient growth. As of January 2023, the latest blog post on the Sam Altman blog is about “Helion Needs You”. His most famous publication is titled “How to be Successful? – Tips from Sam Altman”

Sam Altman’s Book

Sam is a prolific writer as evidenced in his blog. His writing style is unique. He has the ability to make the reader feel like they’re getting knowledge, while simultaneously being spurred to action. It’s no wonder he has numerous best sellers.

Some of his publications include:

  1. Manifest Destiny
  2. Start-up Playbook

In his publication, How to be Successful, he gives some nuggets on how to start and maintain a productive business. For example, he emphasized the need for quality in any business. He teaches that the quality you provide for one customer would encourage them to refer your service to their family and friends. He refers to companies like Facebook and Google. According to him, most of your work is done when your service or product is so good that people want to tell others about it.

In Conclusion

Sam Altman has made outstanding contributions to tech in the 21st century and is still ongoing. His story, from start to greatness, is a very inspiring one. Today, Sam Altman is estimated to be worth 250 million dollars. Looking at his portfolio, Sam has been involved in every tech genre while funding many successful start-ups. In addition, he makes conscious efforts to support every branch of society, not only tech; during the COVID pandemic, Altman created and funded a clinical research start-up, Project Covalence. Sam Altman, like his OpenAI, strives to make life easy and more productive for all of humanity. Sam’s services tremendously benefit us. It’s rare to offer a pool of knowledge for free. We are genuinely intrigued to see what he comes up with next.

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