Meet Sam Altman’s Hyderabad Companion

Atty Eleti, an OpenAI software engineer, joined during ChatGPT's launch.
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When Sam Altman visited India, he was accompanied by two Indian-origin associates, namely Sandhini Agarwal and Atty Eleti, who saved Altman from answering policy and technical-related questions. AIM was lucky enough to get in touch with the latter, who now works as a software engineer at OpenAI, building APIs and other super cool stuff that he held himself from disclosing, even by mistake. 

Athyuttam Eleti, aka Atty Eleti, joined OpenAI precisely when the company launched ChatGPT to the world. “I joined on November 7th, last year, two weeks before GPT-4 was launched. I really thought I was joining a low key research lab. But it turns out, I was joining a consumer sensation. It’s been a really exciting ten months so far.” he shared, in an exclusive conversation with AIM

He said that OpenAI just sort of happened to him. “I had always known about OpenAI. The company’s co-founder, Greg Brockman, was previously the CTO of Stripe, a payment processing company, where I worked, and some team-mates from Stripe joined OpenAI too.  

Further, he said: What really got me was when my former roommate, Nicholas Turley, now the product manager at OpenAI, refused to talk about a project but would constantly say how ‘transformational,’ it was. “I did some research on GPT-3 and DALL.E and something clicked,” he said, saying that natural language interfaces are finally possible and there are hints of reasoning ability that insert intelligence in this model. 

“And I can’t describe it any more than a gut feeling that this is the future. I applied and went through the due process and was lucky to get an offer,” he added. 

The Interview 

The interview process at OpenAI was extensive, “For the role I applied for, product engineer on the API team the interviews focused on product skills and engineering. There were multiple interview rounds at OpenAI,” he explained.

Eleti said one of them was a product sense interview, where he interacted with the designer, discussing the product philosophy, design flaws, and solutions, among other things. He said that the second interview was around systems design, where he had to design a backend for an app, like Slack or Uber. 

He further explained that there was also a front-end interview, where he had to build a relatively complex UI. The interviewers closely examine the UI, focusing on details. 

Additionally, he also said that there are broader career goals and behavioural interviews conducted by the hiring manager. “During this interview, they assess the candidate’s alignment with the company and reasons for wanting to work there,” added Eleti. 

“I did the Stripe interview as a new graduate many years ago so they’re kind of different, but they were both hard!” he recalled, comparing his experience with the OpenAI interview. 


Eleti is a graduate of Brown University and is deeply interested in graphic design. While in university at Brown he took advantage of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and took classes on branding, typography, etc. 

He wanted to be an animator at school and spoke about how he would experiment with Photoshop and 3D software on projects. “There’s always an interest in design and art but at RISD I tried to balance both of those things during my time in college, and in particular, was very interested in UI and UX design. And all my internships had the added component of that,” he added.

He interned at Facebook (now Meta), Kayak (a travel search engine platform), and Figma, as a design intern, before joining Stripe as a payment processing engineer.“I decided to double down and focus more on engineering as a full time career after my stints as a designer,” he said, explaining that he wanted to build the whole software product. 

In January 2022, Eleti decided to venture into developing API software and enrolled into Y Combinator’s startup accelerator programme. “Six months into the endeavour, I realised that it wasn’t the right idea or the right time. I took some time off, it was during this period that I grew curious about OpenAI,” he added.  

What’s next? 

“My innings has only just begun and with OpenAI, I’m very, very excited to be a part of the change that’s about to happen in the human-computer interaction,” said Eleti. 

He said he is excited to see newer models being launched, alongside building ambitious products and tools that enable developers. “I’m very interested in seeing how the journey plays out and see what kind of platform shift AI plays,” said Eleti, saying that eventually down the line would like to start his own company. “I am a builder at heart, and I want to keep building,” he concluded.  

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K L Krithika
K L Krithika is a tech journalist at AIM. Apart from writing tech news, she enjoys reading sci-fi and pondering the impossible technologies while trying not confuse it with the strides technology achieves in real life.

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