OpenAI Startup Fund Quietly Raises $15 Million

The OpenAI Startup Fund, a venture capital fund related to – but technically separate from – OpenAI that invests in early-stage, typically AI-related companies in education, law and the sciences, has quietly closed a $15 million tranche.

According to a submit At the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, two unnamed investors contributed the $15 million in new cash on or around April 19. The paperwork was filed on April 25 and names Ian Hathaway, the manager and sole partner of the OpenAI Startup Fund.

The capital was transferred to a legal entity, a so-called Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), associated with the OpenAI Startup Fund: OpenAI Startup Fund SPV II, LP

SPVs allow multiple investors to pool their resources and invest in one company or fund. In the venture capital industry, they are sometimes used to invest in startups that do not fit a fund's strategy or fall outside a fund's terms and conditions. SPVs can also be sold to a wider range of non-institutional investors.

This is the second time that the OpenAI Startup Fund has raised capital through an SPV – the first time being in February for a $10 million tranche.

The OpenAI Startup Fund, whose portfolio companies include legal technology startup Harvey, Ambiance Healthcare and humanoid robotics company Figure AI, came under scrutiny last year after it was revealed that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman had long run the fund had legally checked. Although marketed as a standard corporate venture arm, Altman raised capital for the OpenAI Startup Fund from external limited partners, including Microsoft (a close OpenAI partner and investor), and had final say on the investments of the fund.

Neither OpenAI nor Altman had (or have) a financial interest in the OpenAI Startup Fund. But critics nevertheless argued that Altman's ownership amounted to a conflict of interest; OpenAI claimed that the overall partnership structure was intended to be “temporary.”

In April, Altman transferred formal control of the OpenAI Startup Fund to Hathaway, previously an investor at the venture capital firm Haystack, who had played a key role in managing the Startup Fund since 2021.

Last year, the OpenAI Startup Fund — whose ventures also include an incubator program called Converge — had $175 million in commitments and $325 million in gross net asset value.. It has backed more than a dozen startups, including Descript, a collaborative multimedia editing platform valued at $553 million last year; language learning app Speaking; AI-powered note-taking app Mem; and IDE platform Anysphere.

OpenAI had not responded to JS's request for comment at the time of publication. We will update this post if we hear anything.

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