Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, is stepping down, and Mira Murati, CTO, has been appointed interim CEO.
OpenAI’s Board of Directors, which includes Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever and independent directors such as Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Helen Toner of Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technologies, made the decision after considering Altman’s candidacy for CEO. The board stated that Altman was not consistently forthright in his communications, which interfered with its ability to fulfill its duties.
Greg Brockman, co-founder and president of OpenAI, is also leaving the company after Altman’s sudden dismissal. The announcement comes just hours after OpenAI confirmed the CEO’s departure and assured that Brockman would remain with the startup. Brockman’s departure adds to the uncertainty at OpenAI, which only recently held its first developer conference under Altman’s leadership.
In a series of tweets, Brockman said that Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist, had informed Altman the night before about a call scheduled for noon on Friday. During this conversation, Sutskever and other OpenAI board members informed Altman of their decision to fire him. According to Brockman, the top management team, with the exception of Mira Murati, who was informed the night before, was unaware of the decision.
However, the dismissals did not end there, according to The Information, three senior OpenAI researchers, Jakub Paczocki, Alexander Madry, and Shimon Sidor, resigned after Altman and Brockman’s departure. This may negatively affect further research and development of new projects in OpenAI.
With Mira Murati taking on the role of interim CEO, OpenAI will strive to maintain stability during the transition period. The company plans to conduct a formal search for a permanent CEO.
Microsoft, a key business partner of OpenAI, assures that the change in leadership will not affect their cooperation. In a separate statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reaffirmed the company’s commitment to OpenAI and support for Murati and her team. However, according to Axios, Microsoft, which invested heavily in OpenAI, was caught off guard by Sam Altman’s sudden dismissal, learning about the decision only a minute before it was publicly announced.
According to Bloomberg, Altman clashed with board members, especially Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s co-founder and chief scientist, over how quickly to develop so-called generative AI, how to commercialize products and what steps should be taken to reduce their potential harm to the public, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
In addition to disagreements over strategy, board members also fought Altman’s entrepreneurial ambitions. According to a person familiar with the investment proposal, Altman was trying to raise tens of billions of dollars from Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds to create an AI chip startup to compete with NVIDIA’s processors. Altman also negotiated with SoftBank Group Chairman Masayoshi Son for a multibillion-dollar investment in a new AI-focused hardware company in partnership with former Apple designer Jony Ive.
According to the source, Sutskever and his allies on OpenAI’s board of directors were unhappy with Altman’s fundraising efforts under the OpenAI name and feared that the new companies might not share the same management model as OpenAI.
This series of changes in OpenAI’s management raises questions about the future of OpenAI and has already created panic among Silicon Valley startups that rely on the company’s technology in their products. Apparently, the story of Sam Altman’s dismissal from OpenAI will not end with these events.