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Who is Chat GPT founder Sam Altman?

E27 - Sam Altman, Loopt Inspirational Quotes

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and now Sam Altman are a few of many examples of who have taken the tech industry by storm. Here are some facts about Chat GPT’s founder who has changed how society operates due to Chat GPT. Here are some facts about the founder as well as the platform he invented, Chat GPT.

Courtesy of CBS News

Sam Altman, born in 1985 is an American entrepreneur, investor and programmer who is known for Loopt, Y Combinator and Chat GPT. He was also briefly the CEO of Reddit.

Early Life

Altman was raised in St Louis, Missouri, within a Jewish household with his mother, a dermatologist. At the age of 8 he was introduced to his first ever computer. He would then go on to pursue his education at John Burroughs School then followed by attending Stanford University to study computer science in 2005 which was discontinued after a year resulting in a non-completion in his bachelor’s degree.



At the young age of 19 in 2005, Altman played a key role in the founding of Loopt, a mobile application that combined social networking with location-based services. Serving as CEO, Altman successfully secured over $30 million in venture capital to support the company’s growth. Unfortunately, despite these effort, Loopt struggled to attract a substantial user base and failed to achieve significant success. Eventually, in 2012, the Green Dot Corporaton acquired Loopt for a sum of $43.4 million.

Y Combinator

In 2011, Altman joined Y Combinator as a partner, initially working part-time. However, his role expanded over time, and in February 2014, he was appointed as the president of Y Combinator by co-founder Paul Graham. Altman highlighted the impressive success of Y Combinator in a 2014 blog post, noting that the combined valuation of its portfolio companies, including notable names like Airbnb, Dropbox, Zenefits, and Stripe, had surpassed $65 billion.

Altman aimed to further expand Y Combinator’s impact by funding 1000 new companies annually and diversifying the types of ventures supported, particularly emphasising ‘hard technology’ companies. He made significant moves to achieve these goals, such as launching YC Continuity in October 2015 – a $700 million equity fund dedicated to investing in maturing YC companies. Additionally, Altman established Y Combinator Research, a non-profit research lab focused on various areas, including basic income, the future of computing, education, and urban development. He personally donated $10 million to support the initiative.

In March 2019, Altman made a transition within YC, shifting from the role of president to a less hands-0n position as the Chairman of the Board. This move allowed him to concentrate his efforts on his involvement with Open AI. Notably, Y Combinator also announced its decision to relocate its headquarters to San Franciso around the same time. As of early 2000, Altman is no longer formally associated with YC.

Open AI

By the year 2020, Sam Altman decided to leave Y Combinator in order to fully dedicate himself to OpenAi, where he assumed the position of CEO. Open AI, a prominent AI research organisation, had received its initial funding from a diverse group of individuals. This group consists of not only Sam Altman himself but also Greg Brockman, Elon Musk, Jessica Livingston and more. Notably when OpenAI was established in 2015, it had managed to secure an impressive $1 billion in funding to support its ambitious endeavours.


Following the resignation of CEO Yishan Wong in 2014, Sam Altman briefly assumed the role of CEO at Reddit for a period of eight days. However, Altman announced the return of Steve Huffman as the CEO of Reddit on July 10, 2015.


In 2019, Altman played a co-founding role in Tools For Humanity, a company that embarked on the development of a global iris-based biometric system known as Worldcoin. Worldcoin aimed to leverage cryptocurrency technology to establish a reliable method of authenticating individuals online. The primary objective was to counteract the presence of bots and fraudulent virtual identities that artificial intelligence-enabled.

Worldcoin employed a unique distribution mechanism for its cryptocurrency, similar to a Universal Basic Income (UBI), as a way to incentivize users to participate in its network. To join, individuals were encouraged to have their irises scanned using Worldcoin’s distinctive orb-shaped iris scanner.

However, in April 2022, a report from MIT Technology Review shed light on Worldcoin’s controversial practices in low-income countries, suggesting that the company took advantage of impoverished individuals to expand its network.

Furthermore, in May 2023, TechCrunch reported a security breach where hackers successfully stole login credentials from iris-scanning operator devices employed by Worldcoin.

Sam Altman CropEdit James Tamim
Sam Altman CropEdit James Tamim


Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Sam Altman played a significant role in providing financial support and establishing Project Covalence. This initiative aimed to facilitate the swift initiation of clinical trials by researchers in collaboration with TrialSpark, a startup specializing in clinical trials.

Furthermore, during a period of depositor run in Silicon Valley Bank in mid-March 2023, Altman stepped in to provide capital to multiple startups, ensuring their continues operations and stability during a challenging financial period.

Opinions on AI

Altman holds a strong belief that advanced AI has the potential to bring about significant advancements in the quality of life for people, a perspective he feels often gets overlooked in discussions about AI. He envisions a wide range of benefits that AI can offer in various fields such as healthcare, education, productivity, and addressing climate change.

However, despite his generally optimistic outlook, Altman has also expressed concerns about the potential risks associated with advanced AI. In 2023, he raised the possibility of AI posing a threat to human existence. To address this, he advocates for increased focus on AI safety research, improved international coordination, and the establishment of an organization similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to oversee powerful AI models. He also highlights concerns about cybersecurity and the risks of disinformation.

Altman emphasizes the need for regulations in the AI field, but he suggests that these regulations should be targeted at AI models that exceed a certain capability threshold to prevent stifling innovation.

In collaboration with other co-founders of OpenAI, Greg Brockman and Ilya Sutskever, Altman stated in 2023 that superintelligence could potentially emerge within the next decade. They emphasized that it is an inherent part of our technological trajectory, and stopping it would require extreme measures such as a global surveillance regime, which may not even be effective. Thus, they stress the importance of getting the development of AI right, with a strong focus on safety and ethics.

Regarding employment, Altman anticipates that AI will automate certain aspects of labor but will also create new and different job opportunities. He envisions a future where working becomes more optional, acknowledging that some individuals may choose not to work, and he sees that as a positive development.

‘People competing with each other to make better and better models is awesome. As long as we’re not competing in a way that would put safety at risk. If we’re competing for models while raising the bar around safety. I think it’s a good thing’.

Sam Altman
Sam Altman
Sam Altman

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