OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, abruptly fired its co-founder and (now ex) CEO Sam Altman on Friday. Following his termination, Altman will also be stepping down from OpenAI’s board of directors. In a blog post, the company announced that the board no longer felt confident about having Altman at its helm.
The dramatic change in the AI firm’s leadership was also followed by co-founder Greg Brockman stepping down from his position as OpenAI’s president. While the company searches for a new CEO to replace Sam Altman, CTO Mira Murati has been temporarily promoted to interim CEO.
Sam Altman Lied to the Board of Directors, OpenAI Claims
The board’s decision to fire Altman undoubtedly comes as a surprise, considering it gave no hints prior to the sudden announcement. Notably, the leadership change comes just days after the former CEO announced a slew of new features and upgrades to OpenAI’s products at DevDay.
Altman “wasn’t consistently candid in his communications”, the company’s blog post reads, potentially accusing him of lying and adding that he was hindering the board’s ability to exercise its responsibilities.
It also went on to add that “The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI“. Through the blog post, the company also assured that the board has undertaken a deliberative review process before coming to its decision.
Acknowledging Altman’s contributions in helping OpenAI progress towards the goal, the board expressed its belief in the need for new leadership.
However, the company hasn’t shed much light on what exactly led them to fire Altman or any specific mistakes he may have made. Both OpenAI and Microsoft, which owns a 49% stake in the AI firm, appear to be quite secretive on the matter and haven’t offered any more details.
In a joint statement, the board of directors wrote that OpenAI had been structured specifically to advance its goal of ensuring that all humanity benefits from artificial general intelligence.
OpenAI’s CTO, Mira Murati, who heads the company’s product, research, and safety functions, will temporarily replace Altman in the absence of a permanent CEO. In the meantime, the AI giant has already initiated its search for a new CEO.
OpenAI President Greg Brockman Steps Down
Not long after Sam Altman was ousted from OpenAI, the company’s co-founder and president, Greg Brockman, announced that he was stepping down too. The company had previously announced that Brockman would be stepping down from his position of board chairman but would continue to work at OpenAI.
His decision to quit the firm altogether, together with the abrupt firing of Sam Altman, has sent shockwaves through Silicon Valley and the tech world in general.
A close confidant of Altman, Greg Brockman, clarified that the board has wanted him to remain at OpenAI. However, the former OpenAI president decided to resign, citing disappointment over the board’s direction.
Speculative Theories Include Security Issues and Lack of Transparency by Altman
The sudden development, together with the lack of clarity on the exact reason behind Altman’s ousting from the company, has led to widespread speculations.
Based on the board’s allegation of Altman not being “consistently candid”, many believe that he tried to circumvent it in a major partnership or deal.
Other speculative theories include disagreements over long-term strategies or AI ethics and philosophy. The massive DDoS attack suffered by OpenAI last week, following which Microsoft removed internal access to ChatGPT for a short period, has led many to speculate that Altman may have earned the board’s distrust by downplaying a major security flaw.
In an X post where he talked about how much he loved his time at OpenAI, Altman wrote that he will have more to say on this matter later.