OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Abruptly Pushed Out by Board [Updated]
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.
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 17, 2023
Update Friday evening: President Greg Brockman has also announced he is quitting and the fallout may spiral across the company.
OpenAI CEO and co-founder Sam Altman was removed from his position by the board of directors effective immediately. CTO Mira Murati has been appointed interim CEO while a formal search begins for Altman’s permanent replacement. OpenAI president Greg Brockman, while retaining that role, has also stepped down from his position as chairman of the board.
OpenAI Seismic Shift
The board cited a “lack of consistent candor” with other members that hurt its governance abilities in a blog post about the changeover. Though hinting that he had not been fully transparent in communications, no further specifics were provided regarding the nature of the issues.
“OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward,” the board said in a statement. “As the leader of the company’s research, product, and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period.”
Altman said in a tweet he “loved his time at OpenAI” and hinted at future plans while expressing pride in the company’s growth and societal impact. But his abrupt termination comes without any advance warning or transition period. Altman co-founded OpenAI in 2015 alongside Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, and others as a nonprofit aimed at responsibly advancing artificial general intelligence. He initially served as co-chair before becoming sole CEO and guiding its pivot to a “capped-profit” structure in 2019.
The sudden power shift comes after what had been arguably one of the most successful periods for the company in a year full of them. The recent first Dev Day, with a keynote run by Altman, was seen as a major milestone for the company after the announcement of custom GPTs and upgrades to its large language models. Altman himself was actively shaping AI policy conversations on a global stage. In any case, Altman’s acclaimed tenure ends abruptly, with perhaps his greatest success just taking flight. The company he guided from inception now enters its next chapter without the leader who defined its path forward.