SAM ALTMAN, WHO as CEO of OpenAI gave the world ChatGPT and became one of the most influential people in technology, has departed the company after losing the confidence of its board.
According to company president Greg Brockman in a post on Twitter, Altman, who had been with the company since its founding in 2015, was informed of his termination by OpenAI board member and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, just minutes before the board made a public announcement.
The board’s announcement stated that a review of Altman’s behavior “concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.” Mira Murati, who previously held the position of OpenAI’s chief technology officer, has been appointed as the interim CEO while the board searches for a permanent replacement.
OpenAI did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Brockman’s post and declined to comment on the board’s announcement. Altman also did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the announcement, Greg Brockman, who co-founded OpenAI with Altman and other prominent figures in AI and technology, including Elon Musk, will step down from his position as chair of the company’s board.
No reason was given for Brockman’s change in position, but he announced his resignation from the company several hours after the company’s statement. He shared an email sent to OpenAI staff on X, stating, “I’m super proud of what we’ve all built since starting in my apartment 8 years ago. We’ve been through tough and great times together, accomplishing so much despite all the reasons it should have been impossible. But based on today’s news, I quit.”
Later on Friday, Brockman posted on X expressing shock and sadness at the board’s actions. According to his post, Altman was informed of his firing by fellow OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and board member, at noon that day. Brockman was separately informed of his removal from the board shortly after. “We will be fine. Greater things coming soon,” Brockman’s post concluded.
An investor in OpenAI, who spoke anonymously due to incomplete knowledge of the board’s concerns, stated that the gravity of Altman’s alleged lack of candor, as suggested by the company’s statement, could be significant. This changeover could potentially result in employees seeking opportunities elsewhere. OpenAI, along with AI rivals like Google and Meta, has intensified their competition for AI talent since the introduction of ChatGPT last year.
The remarkable capabilities of ChatGPT, such as solving complex puzzles and handling questions that seem to require human-like reasoning, astonished AI researchers, captivated the public, and triggered a race among major tech companies to develop more powerful AI. Altman’s success with the bot has turned him into a tech celebrity, sought after by world leaders for insights into the future of AI technology.
Altman made an appearance yesterday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, where he addressed hundreds of business and government leaders. He emphasized that if AI systems were developed responsibly, they could solve humanity’s most pressing problems.
“We’re on a path to self-destruction as a species right now,” he said, sitting alongside executives from Meta and Google. “If we want to flourish for tens, hundreds of thousands, and millions of years more, we need new technology.”
Altman acknowledged that success wasn’t guaranteed, but he expressed confidence in the ultimate benefits of AI. He described it as his life’s work, starting from childhood. “This will be the most transformative and beneficial technology humanity has yet invented,” he said.
OpenAI, founded in 2015 as a nonprofit, focuses on the safe development of AI that surpasses human intelligence. It was funded by Musk and others, including Peter Thiel and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman.
OpenAI transitioned into a for-profit company in 2019 due to the increasing cost of building and training advanced AI. In the same year, they formed a partnership with Microsoft, which involved a billion-dollar investment from the tech giant and the provision of cloud computing power for training OpenAI’s algorithms. Recently, Microsoft agreed to invest an additional $10 billion into OpenAI.
Since its inception, OpenAI has developed numerous cutting-edge AI projects. However, the introduction of ChatGPT in November 2022 propelled the company to become one of the most significant businesses globally.
According to an anonymous source familiar with the matter, Microsoft received a preliminary notification about OpenAI’s management changes today. However, the specific details regarding the justifications of the OpenAI board were not disclosed.
Later, Microsoft released a statement from CEO Satya Nadella, affirming the company’s commitment to its partnership with OpenAI and to Murati and her team. The statement by Nadella asserts that together, they will continue to bring the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world.
Updated 11-18-2023, 1:10 am EST: This article was updated with Brockman’s post on the OpenAI board’s actions.
Updated 11-17-2023, 8:25 pm EST: This article was updated with news of Greg Brockman’s resignation.
Updated 11-17-2023, 7:25 pm EST: Updated with Microsoft CEO statement.
Updated 11-17-2023, 6:20 pm EST: This article was updated with comment from an OpenAI investor.
Updated 11-17-2023, 5:30 pm EST: This article was updated with additional comment from Microsoft.
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