Update Nov. 20, 2023: CNBC confirmed that Emmett Shear has taken over OpenAI following Sam Altman’s departure. The original story is included below.
Update Nov. 19, 2023: Multiple sources suggest that OpenAI’s board is discussing rehiring Sam Altman after firing him. Our original story remains below.
OpenAI has made a surprising announcement regarding the CEO, Sam Altman. After conducting a thorough review, the board dismissed Altman from his position due to alleged inconsistency in communication transparency. This decision was disclosed on Friday.
According to the company’s official blog post, the board’s confidence in Altman’s leadership had waned, hindering their ability to fulfill their responsibilities. The sudden departure caught OpenAI employees off guard, learning the news simultaneously with the public announcement from various sources.
Mira Murati, the Chief Technology Officer, immediately steps into the role of interim CEO. OpenAI is set to initiate a search for a permanent successor to lead the company.
Altman, a co-founder of OpenAI, took to X (formerly Twitter) to express his sentiments: “I loved my time at OpenAI. It was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world. Most of all, I loved working with such talented people. Will have more to say about what’s next later.” Rumors circulate about Altman’s potential venture into “hard tech” through a venture capital fund, but the exact motive behind his departure remains unclear.
The announcement also revealed that Greg Brockman, co-founder and president, would step down as board chairman while maintaining a role within the company. However, in an unexpected development, Brockman later confirmed his resignation on X in response to the day’s news.
Sam Altman has been a prominent figure at OpenAI, notably leading the company’s keynote at the recent DevDay conference, where significant updates were unveiled to compete with tech giants like Microsoft and Google. Altman’s departure has not affected Microsoft’s commitment to its partnership with OpenAI, as stated by Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw and echoed by CEO Satya Nadella.
Altman’s future endeavors include reported discussions with Jony Ive, Apple’s former chief design officer, about creating the “iPhone of artificial intelligence.” He is also a major shareholder in Humane, a company that recently launched orders for its Humane AI Pin.
This leadership shake-up marks a significant turn of events for OpenAI, a company that has played a pivotal role in the AI landscape, particularly with the release of ChatGPT last year. Altman co-founded OpenAI alongside Elon Musk, who left in 2018 to avoid conflicts of interest with Tesla, subsequently founding his own AI company, xAI.
In the wake of Altman and Brockman’s departures, OpenAI’s board now primarily consists of outsiders, including the company’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, Tasha McCauley, the former CEO of GeoSim Systems, and Helen Toner, the director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. The unfolding situation raises questions about the future direction and stability of one of the leading players in the AI field.