Home / News / Business / Sam Altman Has a History of Being Fired
3 min read

Sam Altman Has a History of Being Fired

Last Updated April 2, 2024 3:41 PM
James Morales
Last Updated April 2, 2024 3:41 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Sam Altman no longer controls the OpenAI Startup Fund.
  • His leadership of the fund has been terminated following concerns about the unusual ownership arrangement.
  • Previously, Altman was allegedly fired from his role as the President of YCombinator for putting his own interests first.

When the OpenAI board fired Sam Altman as CEO last year, the prospect of his departure plunged the company into crisis and he was quickly reinstated. But after he was removed as head of the company’s startup fund recently, he is unlikely to return.

The decision reflects mounting scrutiny of Altman’s role at OpenAI. It also highlights a recurring theme in his career, throughout which he has been fired on multiple occasions.

Why Does Sam Altman Keep Getting Fired?

Shortly after Altman was reinstated as the CEO of OpenAI in November, the Washington Post reported that he had previously been ousted as President of YCombinator, an allegation that both he and the startup accelerator’s founder Paul Graham have refused to comment on.

According to the Post, the official story – that Altman left YCombinator to focus on OpenAI – masks a major fallout that happened behind the scenes. 

OpenAI CEO Accused of Self-Interested Leadership

Citing company insiders, the report claims Graham, who appointed Altman as President and acted as his mentor, fired his protege over concerns that he was putting his own interests ahead of YCombinator’s.

Similar charges of self-interest would later surface in the wake of last year’s OpenAI controversy, Yet Altman insists that his tenure as CEO is subject to the same checks and balances as any other corporate leadership role.

“I continue to not want super-voting control over OpenAI. I never have,” he recently stated.

Mixing Personal and Professional Relationships

Alongside concerns over his loyalty to other investors, Altman’s time at YCombinator was marked by his tendency to personally invest in startups the firm incubated. 

Since his departure, YCombinator has cracked down on the dubious practice, restricting employees from making their own separate deals with promising startups.

However, Altman appears to have continued mixing personal and professional relationships at OpenAI. 

OpenAI Startup Fund Raises Eyebrows

While he hasn’t put any of his own money into the Open AI Startup Fund, until recently, Altman was listed as its legal owner. 

This bizarre ownership arrangement raises a number of questions. Most importantly, why does OpenAI or the OpenAI Foundation not own the venture capital vehicle that bears their name? 

In a statement, an OpenAI spokesperson explained that the ownership structure was only ever meant to be a temporary arrangement: “We wanted to get started quickly and the easiest way to do that due to our structure was to put it in Sam’s name,” they said .

While legal ownership of the fund has now been transferred to partner Ian Hathaway, Altman’s unusual role is part of a pattern of irregularities that characterize the increasingly complex structure of the now-sprawling AI empire he oversees

Was this Article helpful? Yes No