AI news
November 18, 2023

OpenAI Fired Sam Altman

Breaking news from OpenAI. Sam Altman just got fired by OpenAI's board. Greg Brockman, President and CTO also quits.

Jim Clyde Monge
Jim Clyde Monge

Sam Altman, the face of OpenAI, was just fired from OpenAI.

This news shocked me this morning the moment I woke up and checked my X feed. Why the heck was he fired?

Though the reasons are unclear, it seems there were serious issues between Sam and the board regarding transparency and communication.

What just happened?

The company announced Sam’s ousting in a blog post this morning.

“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 board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.” — OpenAI

For reference, the board of directors includes:

  • Greg Brockman (Chairman & President)
  • Ilya Sutskever (Chief Scientist)
  • Sam Altman (CEO)
  • Adam D’Angelo
  • Tasha McCauley
  • Helen Toner

OpenAI Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati has been appointed interim CEO to lead OpenAI while the search begins for a permanent successor to Altman.

Given her long tenure and close engagement with all aspects of the company, including her experience in AI governance and policy, the board believes she is uniquely qualified for the role and anticipates a seamless transition while it conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO. — OpenAI

Mira Murati, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and Ilya Sutskever
Mira Murati, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and Ilya Sutskever

But why not Greg Brockman?

Apparently, Greg also quit his post following Sam’s departure.

This is a real Steve Jobs moment.

Losing both Sam and Greg Brockman at the same time deals a huge blow to OpenAI. Sam was the visionary co-founder and public face of the company. Brockman was the technical genius leading the engineering teams.

Microsoft stock dropped

Microsoft, which has invested heavily in OpenAI, saw its stock price take a hit when the news came out.

Microsoft stock dropped after sam altman fired from OpenAI
Image by Jim Clyde Monge

Microsoft is OpenAI’s closest partner and has tied its fortunes to the AI startup. Meanwhile, OpenAI relies on Microsoft for funding and cloud services.

Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI now seems less secure. They were betting big on Sam’s leadership, so his ousting likely damaged their confidence.

Just last week, Sam and Satya were seen together on stage during OpenAI’s first ever Dev Day.

Sam Altman and Satya Nadella. OpenAI Dev Day Keynote
OpenAI Dev Day Keynote

Facts about Sam Altman and OpenAI

  • Sam Altman co-founded OpenAI in 2015 alongside Elon Musk
  • Sam Altman played a crucial role in transitioning OpenAI from a non-profit to a for-profit company
  • He also became a spokesman for the tech industry’s shift toward AI, testifying before Congress

Final Thoughts

Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI is truly shocking and will likely have major ripple effects across the AI industry.

The broader AI industry is also likely to be affected by Altman’s departure. OpenAI is a leading force in the field, and its work has set a high standard for others to follow. Altman’s dismissal could lead to a period of uncertainty and instability in the industry.

I wouldn’t be surprised if ever I see Sam somehow ends up joining xAI and helping Elon Musk improve Grok.

What can you say about the departure of Sam Altman from OpenAI? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.