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OpenAI Fires Sam Altman and Appoints New CEO

OpenAI Fires Sam Altman and Appoints New CEO

Ivana Shteriova December 04, 2023
December 04, 2023
OpenAI cycled through three CEOs in as many days after its Board fired co-founder and CEO Sam Altman.

In an unexpected turn of events, OpenAI co-founder and CEO Sam Altman was fired by the company’s board in mid-November.

The decision to fire Altman came after the board, consisting of chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, former GeoSim Systems CEO Tasha McCauley, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, and director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology Helen Toner, concluded that “he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”

The board initially appointed Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati as the new interim CEO. But after expressing her support for her former CEO, the board replaced her with former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear.

Inside sources claim the real reason behind Altman’s firing was a misalignment with the profit direction accompanied by the rapid development the company has taken under Altman’s helm. The board reportedly saw this as too risky, reiterating its mission that “artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity” and pushing for a nonprofit approach dedicated to safer and more responsible AI development.

Shear denied the speculations on X. “The board did *not* [sic] remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that.”

Nearly all of OpenAI’s 700 employees stood with Altman and signed an open letter to the three remaining board members, demanding Altman’s reinstatement and their resignation. The board’s refusal resulted in a mass employee walkout.

Sutskever, who reportedly played the leading role in ousting Altman, expressed his remorse on X. “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”

As OpenAI’s biggest investor, Microsoft feared the talent exodus and CEO drama would jeopardize OpenAI’s upcoming $86 billion share sale. To aid the situation, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella invited Altman and other OpenAI senior figures and employees to join a new advanced AI research team.

ChatGPT grew to over 100 million users weekly just a year after its launch under Altman’s direction, as announced at DevDay. This makes Altman one of the biggest AI wunderkinds, surpassing tech giants like Google that have spent millions of dollars and years of AI research without such significant success. His firing and the future of OpenAI remain surrounded by mystery.

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