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Sam Altman gives up control of OpenAI startup fund, resolving unusual corporate venture structure

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has handed over formal control of the eponymous company’s venture capital fund to Ian Cathaway, OpenAI confirmed to TechCrunch.

The Open Artificial Intelligence Venture Fund was launched in 2021 and was initially established with Altman as the designated controller. The arrangement could cause major problems for the company if he doesn’t return as Open AI CEO after being briefly ousted in November. A spokesman explained that the fund’s original general partner structure was a temporary arrangement in which Altman made no personal investment and had no financial interest.

Axios reported the news earlier.

Cathaway joined OpenAI in 2021 and played a key role in managing the startup fund, leading investments in Ambience Healthcare, Cursor, Harvey and Speak. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was a previous investor in Haystack.

Last year, the fund had $175 million in commitments. Investors include Microsoft and other outside backers. The unit invests in early-stage AI-driven companies in sectors such as healthcare, law and education.

The startup fund has backed at least 16 other startups, according to PitchBook. These include collaborative editing platform Descript, which was valued at $553 million last year, and Ghost Autonomy, which develops self-driving software.

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