What is the OpenAI mafia?

The OpenAI mafia consists of former employees of the artificial intelligence company OpenAI who are pursuing other interests. According to investor and advisor Kal Patel, this cohort now consists of over 30 employees who have raised more than $1 billion for their respective ventures over the last five years. 

David Luan

David Luan is a tech entrepreneur and researcher who was formerly the VP of Engineering at OpenAI. In this role, he was involved in the research, language, supercomputing, reinforcement learning (RL), safety, and policy of GPT-2, GPT-3, CLIP, and DALL-E. 

Luan worked briefly at Google where he lead that company’s giant model efforts, but later started the machine learning (ML) research and product lab known as Adept. The company’s visionis one where machines work together with people in the driver’s seat: discovering new solutions, enabling more informed decisions, and giving us more time for the work we love.

Adept emerged from stealth mode in mid-2022 and raised $65 million toward a universal AI assistant that could integrate various applications to perform almost any task.

Peter Chen

Peter Chen is a research scientist who worked at OpenAI on RL and generative models. According to Chen’s website, the scientist is currently creating teachable robots that leverage recent advances in deep imitation and reinforcement learning.

After leaving OpenAI, Chen co-founded Covariant with Belgian computer science professor Pieter Abbeel in 2017. Based in Berkeley, California, Covariant develops AI-powered robotics systems for logistics and manufacturing businesses.

Maddie Hall

Maddie Hall worked in Special Projects at OpenAI for around twelve months before leaving the company in September 2019. 

Since that time, Hall has worked in the Sequoia Scout Program – an angel investment arm of Sequoia Capital with a focus on climate change, biotechnology, AI, and the application of new tech in old or antiquated industries.

Hall is also the co-founder and current CEO of Living Carbon, a provider of tech-based carbon removal solutions to address climate change and rebalance the planet’s ecosystems.

Jeff Arnold

Jeff Arnold was a former Head of Operations at OpenAI. The entrepreneur served in this role for around seven months before founding his third start-up called Pilot. Pilot is a platform that provides accounting, tax, and CFO services for other start-ups and growing businesses. 

The company reached unicorn status in March 2021 after a Jeff Bezos-led round of funding worth $100 million. Pilot saw an uptick in users over the pandemic as customers looked for a contactless way to manage their finances.

Before his stint at OpenAI, Arnold worked as a software developer at Oracle and served as Head of Product, Clients, and Platforms at Dropbox. He also founded the open-source chat and collaboration platform Zulip in 2012. 

Ludwig Pettersson

According to his LinkedIn profile, Pettersson worked at OpenAI as a “Member of Technical Staff” between 2016 and 2017. Before he joined the AI company, Pettersson worked as Creative Director at Stripe for around five years.

In 2017, Pettersson started the business-centric messaging service known as Quill as a more focused alternative to the likes of Slack. Quill raised $16 million early on and came out of stealth mode in February 2021, but was ultimately acquired by Twitter for an undisclosed sum in December.

Quill was later shut down by Twitter with existing teams having to collaborate via DM. However, many of the Quill team joined Twitter’s Experience organization to work on its messaging tools. Pettersson himself became a product manager and works under the leadership of Oji Udezue in the Conversations team.

Dario Amodei

Dario Amodei is an Italian-American research scientist who has studied physics and human brain function at top universities such as Princeton, Caltech, and Stanford. 

Amodei has published several studies over the years that are considered pioneering in the artificial intelligence industry. Concerned about the entry and role of AI in human society, he has a particular interest in AI safety and security.

Before his time at OpenAI, Amodei worked on the Google Brain team to extend the capabilities of neural networks. He also worked at Baidu where he developed Deep Speech 2 – a human speech recognition system.

Amodei worked at OpenAI for over four years where he led the efforts to build GPT-2 and GPT-3 with a particular focus on model safety. He was also one of two people to define the overall research direction at OpenAI itself.


Amodei founded Anthropic in early 2021. Anthropic is an AI safety and research company that builds interpretable, steerable, and reliable AI systems. The company’s interests span multiple disciplines such as scaling laws, reinforcement learning, human feedback, and code generation.

In January 2023, it was reported that Anthropic was closing in on a $300 million funding deal that would see it valued at approximately $5 billion.

Jonas Schneider

Jonas Schneider was a Tech Lead at OpenAI between April 2016 and August 2019. 

Schneider managed software engineering teams that advanced machine learning and AI research to enable systems to interact with the physical world. One such system was a human-like hand that could solve a Rubik’s cube with unprecedented dexterity.

Post-OpenAI, Schneider founded Daedalus. According to the company website, Daedalus “is building the world’s first autonomous and instantly reconfigurable factories using Software-Defined manufacturing. Our AI-driven robot machinists take our customer’s mission-critical designs from CAD to finished parts, with superhuman precision, reliability, and speed.” 

The Daedalus team is comprised of various experts that hail from OpenAI, SpaceX, Stripe, and Google. The company’s factories – which are fully autonomous and run by software and robots – will be able to produce precision parts for everything from rocket engines to life-saving medical devices and automotive prototypes.

Schneider is also an angel investor in Weights & Biases, a builder of developer tools for machine learning to assist with model optimization, experiment tracking, and dataset versioning.

Ashley Pilipiszyn 

Ashley Pilipiszyn served as Technical Director (Office of the CTO) at OpenAI for three years where she oversaw product releases such as JukeBox, MuseNet, GPT-3, Codex, and DALL-E. She also worked as a Project Lead for the Grid Resilience & Intelligence Platform (GRIP) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Pilipiszyn’s current focus is on the development and deployment of technology that can unlock the next phase of humanity. Through her company Titan Space Technologies, she wants to build digital space factories that will enable companies to take advantage of microgravity and accelerate their product development. 

Accenture invested an undisclosed sum in Titan Space Technologies in April 2022 after the latter successfully deployed and ran a suite of ML models on board the International Space Station (ISS).

Matt Krisiloff

Having joined the company in December 2015, Matt Krisiloff is one of the founding team members of OpenAI. However, he left the company after five months to become the director of Y Combinator Research – the non-profit arm of the start-up accelerator.

Krisiloff co-founded SciFounders in January 2021 which has invested in more than 150 technical start-ups from pre-seed to Series A funding. He is also the co-founder of Conception, a company that turns stem cells into human eggs. Conception hopes to enable male-male couples to have biological children and women to have kids well into their forties and fifties. 

Conception employs a team of 16 scientists and has raised $20 million from notable tech personalities such as OpenAI founder Sam Altman and former Y Combinator president Jaan Tallinn.

Josh Tobin

Tobin was a research scientist at OpenAI for almost three years between 2016 and 2019 whilst completing his Ph.D. at Berkeley. Prior to completing his studies, he worked as a business analyst at McKinsey and an investment partner at Dorm Room Fund. 

In August 2018, Tobin became involved with the Full Stack Deep Learning community for people building machine learning-powered products. He then returned to the University of California, Berkeley, as an instructor in November 2020.


Tobin is also the co-founder and current CEO of Gantry which he initially described as “a stealth-stage machine learning infrastructure company.” Gantry helps its clients improve their machine learning products with analytics, alerts, and human feedback.

Gantry emerged out of stealth mode in June 2022 in response to the insatiable demand for enterprise AI and the infrastructure required to support, develop, and maintain it. The company emerged with a $28.3 million round of funding that involved the likes of Amplify, OpenAI president and co-founder Greg Brockman, and Covariant co-founder Peter Abbeel.

Key takeaways

  • The OpenAI mafia consists of former employees of the artificial intelligence company OpenAI who are pursuing other interests. According to investor and advisor Kal Patel, this cohort now consists of over 30 employees.
  • David Luan is a tech entrepreneur and researcher who was formerly the VP of Engineering at OpenAI. Luan worked briefly at Google where he lead its giant model efforts, but later started the machine learning (ML) research and product lab known as Adept.
  • Dario Amodei is an Italian-American research scientist. He worked at OpenAI for over four years where he led the efforts to build GPT-2 and GPT-3 with a particular focus on model safety. Later, he founded the $5 billion AI safety company known as Anthropic.

Key Highlihgts

  • The OpenAI mafia consists of former employees of OpenAI pursuing other ventures.
  • David Luan is a tech entrepreneur and researcher, former VP of Engineering at OpenAI, and founder of Adept, a machine learning research and product lab.
  • Dario Amodei is an Italian-American research scientist, a key figure in AI safety at OpenAI, and founder of Anthropic, an AI safety and research company valued at $5 billion.
  • Peter Chen is a research scientist and co-founder of Covariant, an AI-powered robotics company for logistics and manufacturing.
  • Maddie Hall works in the Sequoia Scout Program and is the co-founder and CEO of Living Carbon, a tech-based carbon removal solutions company.
  • Jeff Arnold, former Head of Operations at OpenAI, founded Pilot, a platform providing accounting, tax, and CFO services for start-ups, reaching unicorn status with $100 million funding.
  • Ludwig Pettersson, a former OpenAI employee, founded Quill, a business-centric messaging service acquired by Twitter.
  • Jonas Schneider, a Tech Lead at OpenAI, founded Daedalus, building autonomous factories using AI-driven robot machinists.
  • Ashley Pilipiszyn, former Technical Director at OpenAI, founded Titan Space Technologies to build digital space factories for product development.
  • Matt Krisiloff, one of the founding team members of OpenAI, co-founded SciFounders and Conception, working on stem cell technology.
  • Josh Tobin, former research scientist at OpenAI, co-founded Gantry, an AI infrastructure company for machine learning products.

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