Sam Altman is the CEO of OpenAI, the AI research firm, which he co-founded with Elon Musk. The firm’s product “ChatGPT” has incited the tech world, upgrading the perception of AI to witness the potentials of a new AI field – “Generative AI”.
Being a college dropout, the 37-year-old Sam Altman is the man behind ChatGPT and was featured in “Forbes 30 Under 30” of Venture Capitalists in 2015. Here is the CEO’s journey, catalogued along his age.
1985: Bornon April 22, 1985 in Chicago, United States, Samuel H. Altman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri.
1993 – Age 8: Altman got his first computer and learned to code when he was 8 years old. He wasn’t the kid who used to handle things the way it was said to be, dismantling his Macintosh computer at 8.
2001 – Age 16: Sam came out to his parents as Gay and says Mac helped him to identify his sexuality. “Growing up gay in the Midwest in the two-thousands was not the most awesome thing,” he told the New Yorker.
Sam’s schooling was in John Burroughs School, a private, non-sectarian college-preparatory in St.Louis. He came out as gay to the whole community after a Christian group boycotted an assembly at his school that was about sexuality. “It felt like someone had opened up a great big box full of all kinds of kids and let them out into the world,” his college counselor, Madelyn Gray told.
2003 – Age 18: Sam started his Computer Science course in Stanford University.
2004 – Age 19: Along with two of his classmates, Altman co-founded a mobile app – Loopt that shared user’s location with their friends.
2005 – Age 20: He dropped out of Stanford with his two mates to work full time on Loopt. The app appeared to be successful, reaching $175 million valuation, until it failed to hoard enough interest. Loopt was later sold for $43 million in 2012.
Sam’s presence in Y Combinator
2011 – Age 26: Sam shook hands with Y Combinator, a startup accelerator firm, as a part-time partner. Y Combinator was prevalent in the Silicon Valley and was the catalyst behind Reddit.
2012 – Age 27: Altman founded a venture fund called Hydrazine Capital, that raised $21 million, including an investment from billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel. After selling Loopt in 2012, Sam was able to invest $5 million to his own venture.
2014 – Age 29: Altman was chosen to be the President of Y Combinator by Paul Graham, who is the co-founder of Y Combinator.
Sam was phenomenal in his works on Y Combinator. Total valuation of Y Combinator companies had surpassed $65 billion, including famous companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, Zenefits and Stripe. “Under Sam, the level of YC’s ambition has gone up 10x,” said Mark Andreessen, cofounder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
In the same year, Altman lectured in Stanford on “How to Start a Startup”. His 29th age was really a year-on-the-wheels for Sam.
After becoming YC president, Sam welcomed more science and engineering startups and chose a nuclear fission and a fusion startup for YC, as he desired to start a nuclear company of his own. He invested his money in both companies.
2015 – Age 30: Sam got featured in “Forbes 30 Under 30” for venture capital, crediting for his works on YC.
Silicon Valley’s eminent founders and investors accumulated the wealth on OpenAI, including Linkedin’s cofounder Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel, with almost $1 billion.
2019 – Age 34: In order to focus more on OpenAI, Sam Altman decided to step down to Chairman of YC from President.
Sam was unsure of the profitable side of OpenAI, he revealed at a StrictlyVC event in 2019. When Altman was questioned about the revenue generation plan of OpenAI, he said “honest answer is we have no idea”.
At the same year in May, Sam became CEO of OpenAI, after it upgraded into a “capped profit” corporation from being a nonprofit company.
“We want to increase our ability to raise capital while still serving our mission, and no pre-existing legal structure we know of strikes the right balance. Our solution is to create OpenAI LP as a hybrid of a for-profit and nonprofit – which we are calling a “capped-profit company”.
Sam got fortunate to meet Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, where he demonstrated OpenAI’s AI plans to him, after which OpenAI was granted a $1 billion investment from Microsoft in 2019.
Following Microsoft’s funding, OpenAI started focusing more on developing natural language processing.
2020 – Age 35: Sam cofounded a global cryptocurrency project called Worldcoin with Alex Blania and Max Novendstern, which goaled to provide access to crypto by iris-scanning.
It was launched in 2021 and the company has reached 1 million people onboarding 150,000 first-time crypto users, it tweeted.
With his brother Jack, Sam launched a fund in 2020 called Apollo that is focused on funding “moonshot” companies. (Moonshot companies are financially risky startups but could potentially pay off with a breakthrough development).
OpenAI’s overwhelming Success
Of all the unveiled models, ChatGPT performed unbelievably in the world alluring 100 Million users in just 2 months, grabbing the title of “fastest app to reach 100M users”. It also invited a $10 billion investment from Microsoft, and bothered Google.
Sam is still on his interests in nuclear-energy as he put $375 million last year on Helion energy, saying “Helion is more than an investment to me.” “It’s the other thing beside OpenAI that I spend a lot of time on.”
ChatGPT got its recent subscription plan for benefits such as accessing the site anytime, faster responses and first access to new features and ChatGPT improvements, costing $20 a month.
Being a Venture Capitalist, Sam Altman indeed had been revolving around works and investments for most of his life, that made him popular now.
More about Sam Altman
Altman is fond of racing cars and had five, including two McLarens and an old Tesla.
In his leisure times, he used to rent planes and fly over California, he told.
Sam is a doomsday prepper, and had warned of either a lethal synthetic virus, AI attacking humans or nuclear war. “I try not to think about it too much,” Altman told in 2016.
Sam’s mother, who is a dermatologist, says “Sam does keep an awful lot tied up inside. He’ll call and say he has a headache – and he’ll have googled it, so there’s some cyber-chondria in there, too. I have to reassure him that he doesn’t have meningitis or lymphoma, that it’s just stress.”
Forbes identifies Sam as “shy” person (precisely as ‘press-shy’), when they approached him for an interview.
Though few websites estimates Sam Altman’s net-worth as $250 million, it’s unclear of his net-worth, Business Insider reported.