In a major shakeup for the tech industry, Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO behind the artificial intelligence-powered chatbots ChatGPT and GPT-4, has been abruptly fired by his company’s board of directors.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Fired
OpenAI, which is backed by Microsoft, announced on Friday that its board of directors decided on the “leadership transition” after losing faith in Altman’s ability to lead the company.
“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 company said in a statement on its blog.
Board of Directors Point of View
The board of directors expressed gratitude for Altman’s contributions but determined that “new leadership is required as we move forward.”
The company or its board of directors did not elaborate on Altman’s departure.
Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, has been named interim CEO until a more permanent replacement is found to lead the $90bn company.
Altman recently represented the company on a panel at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in San Francisco.
Sam Altman Tweets
Altman stated shortly after the announcement on X, formerly Twitter, that he “loved working with such talented people” and that leading the company had been “transformative to me personally.”
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.
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 17, 2023
Altman said in later posts on X that his firing was a “weird experience” and “sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive,” and that “if I start going off, the OpenAI board should go after me for the full value of my shares.”
Altman Had No Shares in OpenAI
Sam Altman, unlike other tech founders such as Mark Zuckerberg, had no equity in OpenAI and could be fired at any time, according to the news site Semafor earlier this year.
Altman’s unexpected departure sparked a flurry of reactions across the tech industry.
Former Google CEO Eric Shmidt called Altman a “hero” who “changed our collective world forever” on X.
OpenAI president Greg Brockman, who co-founded the company with Altman and Elon Musk, announced his departure shortly after the news broke.
“We’ve been through tough and great times together, accomplishing much despite the reasons it should have been impossible, but based on today’s news, I quit,” he said on X.
— Greg Brockman (@gdb) November 18, 2023
More People Also Resigned
Three senior researchers also resigned on Friday night, according to The Information, citing several people familiar with the situation.
Altman rose to prominence after the release of ChatGPT last year, which captivated and alarmed the public in equal measure with its ability to provide lengthy and human-like – but not always accurate – responses to user queries.
In September, New York Magazine published a profile comparing the tech entrepreneur to J Robert Oppenheimer, known as the father of the atomic bomb, and Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in artificial intelligence in 2023.
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