ChatGPT Maker OpenAI Fires its CEO, Drama Ensues
OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, announced some shocking leadership changes on Friday, firing its CEO Sam Altman, who will also exit the board of directors. Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati taking over as interim CEO, immediately.
Now why did OpenAI fire Altman? The company says, “Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
“OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward. As the leader of the company’s research, product, and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period,” said the board in a statement.
After Altman was ousted, Greg Brockman, president and co-founder of OpenAI, immediately quit. “Based on today’s news, I quit,” he said, in a memo he shared on X, that was sent to the OpenAI team.
Speaking on X, Altman said on Friday afternoon, “I loved my time at openai. it was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. most of all i loved working with such talented people. will have more to say about what’s next later.”
Later on Friday evening, Altman said, “I love you all. today was a weird experience in many ways. but one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive. the outpouring of love is awesome. one takeaway: go tell your friends how great you think they are.”
“If i start going off, the openai board should go after me for the full value of my shares,” he said.
According to Kara Swisher, the firing of Altman happened quickly. Like 30 minutes advance notice. Brockman was apparent told 5 minutes before and Microsoft, a huge backer of OpenAI to the tune of $13 billion USD, was told “just before”. Employees were kept in the dark.
More on @OpenAI: Several sources told me Board told Sam Altman 30 mins in advance, Greg Brockman 5 mins in advance about the move. Brockman is chair of the board, so not sure how that worked. Microsoft also was told just before, and employees not told in advance. 🤡 🚗
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) November 18, 2023
“But, as I understand it, it was a “misalignment” of the profit versus nonprofit adherents at the company. The developer day was an issue,” said Swisher. “Sources tell me that the profit direction of the company under Altman and the speed of development, which could be seen as too risky, and the nonprofit side dedicated to more safety and caution were at odds. One person on the Sam side called it a “coup,” while another said it was the the right move.”
“One source did note that the fault lines were Altman/Brockman duo versus chief scientist Ilya Sutskever and board member Helen Toner, who were aligned,” said Swisher.
It’s unclear what this will mean for the development of ChatGPT, now that Altman and Brockman are gone. But for now, grab your popcorn and get ready for the ride. The AI race is far from over and it’ll be interesting to see where Altman and Brockman end up next.