OpenAI raises $15M for its Startup Fund. It invests in early-stage AI companies

American Gen AI pioneering company OpenAI has raised $15 million for the OpenAI Startup Fund, a venture fund that invests in early-stage and AI-related companies across education, law, and sciences, TechCrunch noticed the documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The deal was co-led by two unnamed investors.

  • The capital was transferred to a legal entity called a special purpose vehicle, or SPV, associated with the OpenAI Startup Fund: OpenAI Startup Fund SPV II, L.P. SPVs allow multiple investors to pool their resources and make investments in a single company or fund. In the VC sector, they’re sometimes used to invest in startups that don’t fit a fund’s strategy or that fall outside a fund’s terms. SPVs can also be marketed to a wider range of non-institutional investors.
  • In February this year, the OpenAI Startup Fund already raised a $10 million capital through an SPV. This time, the paperwork was submitted on April 25, and mentions Ian Hathaway, the OpenAI Startup Fund’s manager and its sole partner.

About the OpenAI Startup Fund

The OpenAI Startup Fund is a venture fund related to OpenAI, but technically separate from it that came under scrutiny last year, as it turned out that for a long time it was legally controlled by the director of OpenAI, Sam Altman. Although it was positioned as an ordinary corporate venture fund, Altman raised capital for the OpenAI Startup Fund from external partners with limited liability, including Microsoft (a close partner and investor of OpenAI), and had the right to a decisive vote in the fund’s investments.

In April, Altman transferred formal control of the OpenAI Startup Fund to Ian Hathaway, which was previously an investor in venture capital firm Haystack and has played a key role in managing the fund since 2021.

As of last year, the OpenAI Startup Fund had $175 million in commitments and held $325 million in gross net asset value from its incubator program called Converge. It has also supported several startups, including Descript, a collaborative multimedia editing platform valued at $553 million last year, language learning app Speak, an AI-powered note-taking app Mem, and IDE platform Anysphere.

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