Sam Altman

updated 26 Jul 2023

Sam Altman is a technology entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and the President of Y Combinator, a startup accelerator. The decision to make him the President of YC, was made by Paul Graham, who regards sam in the same innovative breadth as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. He is also the co-chair of the OpenAI board. Prior to his current roles, Altman co-founded Loopt, a location-based mobile application company, which was acquired by Green Dot Corporation in 2012. He is also a member of the Thiel Fellowship's board of directors.

Frameworks for Thinking

Sam Altman has spoken publicly about several frameworks or principles that he uses when thinking about business strategy and startup development. Some of these include:

  1. The "Make Something People Want" framework: Altman emphasizes the importance of creating something that people genuinely want or need, rather than trying to create demand for a product or service.

  2. The "Start Small" principle: Altman encourages entrepreneurs to start by solving a small, specific problem for a narrow group of users before trying to scale their company.

  3. The "Talk to Users" principle: Altman stresses the importance of regularly talking to and listening to customers in order to understand their needs and preferences, and to ensure that a company is developing products or services that they actually want.

  4. The "Be Willing to Fail" principle: Altman acknowledges that startups are inherently risky and that many will fail, but encourages entrepreneurs to be willing to take risks and to learn from their failures.

  5. The "Compound" Effect: Popularized by Warren Buffett in the stock market, Sam believes the Compound Effect applies to skill development, your career and startups. Spending a long time on something that is incrementally improving will snowball progress over time, with incremental improvements building on one another.

  6. Y Combinator's "batch" model: Y Combinator invests in a large number of startups at the same time, known as a "batch," and provides them with mentorship, resources, and funding over the course of a three-month program. This allows YC to help a large number of startups at once, and also provides a sense of community and support for the founders.


Sam Altman: How to Build the Future

Sam Altman - How to Succeed with a Startup