OpenAI announced on Friday the termination of Sam Altman from his role as CEO. The company cited a board-conducted review, determining that his inconsistent candor in communications hindered the board's ability to fulfill its responsibilities. Consequently, the board lacks confidence in Altman's leadership capability.
Mira Murati, the Chief Technology Officer, will step in as the interim CEO immediately, while OpenAI initiates a search for a permanent successor.
Upon inquiry from The Verge, OpenAI's communications department declined further comment beyond the official blog post. The news was publicly disclosed, catching OpenAI employees off guard, as confirmed by multiple sources.
Reflecting on his time at OpenAI, Altman shared on X (formerly Twitter), "I cherished my tenure at OpenAI; it was a personal transformation and hopefully contributed positively to the world." In a subsequent post, he likened the experience of his dismissal to "reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive."
The announcement also mentioned co-founder and president Greg Brockman stepping down as chairman but remaining within the company. Shortly after the announcement, Brockman confirmed his departure on X, aligning with "today’s news."
In a subsequent X post, Brockman revealed that both he and Altman were informed of their board removal on Friday by OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, who also holds a board position. "Sam and I were taken aback and deeply saddened by the board's actions today," Brockman penned.
This marks an incredibly sudden shift in events. Altman has been the prominent face of OpenAI, pivotal in initiating the ongoing AI competition following last year's widely embraced launch of ChatGPT. Just a week ago, Altman led the keynote address at the company's inaugural DevDay conference, unveiling a range of significant updates aimed at rivaling tech giants like Microsoft and Google. Moreover, Altman was a speaker at Thursday's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.
In connection, Microsoft, having invested substantially in OpenAI, assured The Verge of its ongoing collaboration. "We maintain a long-standing partnership with OpenAI, and Microsoft remains dedicated to supporting Mira and their team as we usher in this next phase of AI for our customers," stated Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella echoed a similar sentiment on X.