OpenAI Startup Fund Raises $15 Million In Secret

OpenAI Startup Fund Raises $15 Million In Secret

A $15 million tranche has been discreetly completed by the OpenAI Startup Fund, a venture fund that is connected to OpenAI but technically distinct from it. It invests in early-stage, usually AI-related businesses in the fields of education, law, and research.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, it is said that the additional $15 million in cash was provided on or around April 19 by two anonymous investors. Ian Hathaway, the manager and only partner of the OpenAI Startup Fund, is mentioned in the documentation, which was turned in on April 25.

The funds were moved to OpenAI Startup Fund SPV II, L.P., a legal company connected to the OpenAI Startup Fund that is known as a special purpose vehicle, or SPV.

Using special purpose vehicles (SPVs), several investors can pool their capital to invest in a single business or fund. They are occasionally employed in the venture capital industry to finance firms that don’t align with the conditions or objectives of a fund. Moreover, a larger spectrum of non-institutional investors may be reached by marketing SPVs.

This is the second time the OpenAI Startup Fund has raised money in this manner using an SPV; the first being a $10 million tranche in February.

The OpenAI Startup Fund came under fire last year when it was discovered that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman had long had legal authority over the fund. Portfolio businesses include humanoid robotics company Figure AI, legal tech startup Harvey, and Ambiance Healthcare. Ostensibly operating as a conventional corporate venture arm, Altman secured funding for the OpenAI Startup Fund from external limited partners, such as Microsoft, an intimate partner and investor in OpenAI, and had ultimate discretion over the fund’s allocation of resources.

There is no financial stake in the OpenAI Startup Fund held by either OpenAI or Altman. Despite this, some contended that Altman’s ownership presented a conflict of interest; nevertheless, OpenAI asserted that the general partner arrangement was meant to be “temporary.”

In April, Altman officially gave Hathaway, a longtime investor with the venture capital firm Haystack who has been instrumental in overseeing the Startup Fund since 2021, formal management of the OpenAI Startup Fund.

The OpenAI Startup Fund has $325 million in gross net asset value as of the previous year, with $175 million in commitments made to its initiatives, which also include the Converge incubation program. Well over a dozen firms have received its backing, including the AI-powered note-taking app Mem, the collaborative multimedia editing platform Descript, which was valued at $553 million last year, the language learning tool Speak, and the IDE platform Anysphere.