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Sam Altman gives up control of OpenAI Startup Fund, resolving unusual corporate venture structure

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has transferred formal control of the eponymously firm’s named corporate venture fund to Ian Cathaway, OpenAI confirmed to TechCrunch. 

The Open AI Startup Fund, launched in 2021, was initially set up with Altman as its named controller. The arrangement could have presented a major issue to the company if he had not been reinstated as Open AI’s CEO following his brief ouster in November. The fund’s initial GP structure was intended as a temporary arrangement, and Altman made no personal investment, nor did he have any financial interest, a spokesperson explained. 

The news was earlier reported by Axios.

Cathaway joined OpenAI in 2021 and played a key role managing the Startup Fund, leading investments in Ambience Healthcare, Cursor, Harvey, and Speak. He was previously an investor with Haystack, according to his LinkedIn profile.

 Last year, the fund had $175 million in commitments, and now holds $325 million in gross net asset value, according to an SEC filing. Investors included Microsoft and other external backers. The unit invests in early-stage AI-driven companies in fields like healthcare, law and education.

The Startup Fund has backed at least 16 other startups, according to PitchBook data. They include Descript, a collaborative editing platform valued at $553 million last year, and Ghost Autonomy, which develops software for autonomous driving.

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