2 hours later:"The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI."
KYLE ORLAND AND BENJ EDWARDS - 11/18/2023, 10:20 AM
OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT and DALL-E, announced Friday that co-founder and CEO Sam Altman will be departing the company and vacating his seat on the board. CTO Mira Murati has been appointed interim CEO effective immediately, according to a blog post from the board of directors.
"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 blog reads, in part. "The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI."
"We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI," the board writes in a prepared statement. "At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward."
OpenAI also announced that Chairman of the Board Greg Brockman will be stepping down from that role but staying with the company.
Altman was the keynote speaker at OpenAI's DevDay just last week, making today's announcement seem rather sudden to those outside the company. Altman has served as an important public face for OpenAI and the entire artificial intelligence sector since helping to found the company in 2015.
Earlier this week, Altman told the Financial Times that the company was pursuing "how to build superintelligence" and future versions of the GPT model that could perform more complex actions.
"We will make these agents more and more powerful... and the actions will get more and more complex from here," he said. "The amount of business value that will come from being able to do that in every category, I think, is pretty good."
As news spread of the firing on social media, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt publicly vouched for Altman, saying, "Sam Altman is a hero of mine. He built a company from nothing to $90 billion in value and changed our collective world forever. I can't wait to see what he does next. I, and billions of people, will benefit from his future work—it's going to be simply incredible. Thank you @sama for all you have done for all of us."
About 20 minutes later, Altman himself posted a statement on the social media network X, saying, "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."
OpenAI President Greg Brockman quits as nervous employees hold all-hands meeting
Something happened at OpenAI to get the CEO fired that suddenly. Probably something bad.After Altman firing, Microsoft has "utmost confidence" in partner OpenAI.
BENJ EDWARDS - 11/18/2023, 1:31 PM
On Friday afternoon, not long after news of CEO Sam Altman's abrupt and surprising departure from OpenAI began spreading online, the company held an all-hands meeting at its headquarters in San Francisco, reports The Information. During the meeting, interim CEO Mira Murati attempted to reassure the shocked employees that the search for a new CEO is underway.
Hours later, OpenAI co-founder and president Greg Brockman posted a statement on X, saying that after he learned today's news he sent a message to the OpenAI team: "based on todays news, i quit." Brockman, a key technical figure involved in many of the company's successes, was relieved of his OpenAI board membership on Friday, but the company initially announced he would be staying on.
Earlier on Friday, OpenAI released a blog post titled "OpenAI announces leadership transition" where it announced that Atlman "was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities." In a response post on X, Altman wrote, "I loved my time at openai," and hinted at future plans without revealing any details.
News of the firing sent shockwaves through the tech community on Friday, prompting rumors on social media about the potential reasons behind Altman's departure, none of which have yet been verified. Altman recently delivered the keynote for its inaugural Dev Day conference and spoke on a panel at the APEC CEO Summit on Thursday. Nothing seemed amiss, according to reports from people who know Altman, so the firing possibly came as a surprise.
OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever reportedly told staff that the internal shake-up will "make us feel closer." In a note to staff earlier in the day, Sutskever wrote, “Change can be scary,” according to The Information, while reassuring that the company has an "incredible team" and that the company’s “research progress is wildly dramatic to say the least, and our product is the fastest growing in history.”
Microsoft employees were also shocked by Altman's departure; reportedly, employees working on OpenAI-related projects did not receive notice that Altman was being fired. Altman served as OpenAI's primary point of contact, and he was instrumental in architecting deals that led to billions of dollars of investment from Microsoft. Reportedly, Altman attended a regularly scheduled meeting with Microsoft executives on Thursday.
A Microsoft spokesperson told The Information, “We have a long-term partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft remains committed to Mira and their team as we bring this next era of AI to our customers."
Amid the shakeup, OpenAI has emphasized that Murati's role as CEO is apparently temporary. "Search process underway to identify permanent successor," they wrote in their announcement. OpenAI was not immediately available to comment.
I hope we get to hear exactly what it was.