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Sam Altman fired as CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI after board of directors ‘loses confidence’



Sam Altman fired as CEO of ChatGPT creator OpenAI after board of directors 'loses confidence'

Altman, who is a co-founder of the company, was let go after the board found he was not “candid” enough in his communications with them.


ChatGPT-maker Open AI said on Friday it has pushed out its co-founder and CEO Sam Altman after a review found he was “not consistently candid in his communications” with the board of directors.

“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” the artificial intelligence (AI) company said in a statement.

Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, will take over as interim CEO effective immediately, the company said, while it searches for a permanent replacement.

An OpenAI spokesperson declined to answer questions on what Altman’s alleged lack of candour was about. The statement said his behaviour was hindering the board’s ability to exercise its responsibilities.

Altman posted Friday on X, formerly Twitter: “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”.

Altman helped start OpenAI as a nonprofit research laboratory in 2015.

In the past year, he was thrust into the global spotlight as the face of OpenAI and the broader AI boom after ChatGPT exploded into public consciousness. 

On a world tour earlier this year, he was mobbed by a crowd of adoring fans at an event in London.

He’s sat with multiple heads of state to discuss AI’s potential and perils. Just on Thursday, he took part in a CEO summit at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco, in the US, where OpenAI is based.

AI ‘the greatest leap forward’

He predicted AI will prove to be “the greatest leap forward of any of the big technological revolutions we’ve had so far”. 

But he also acknowledged the need for guardrails, calling attention to the existential dangers future AI could pose.

Some computer scientists have criticized that focus on far-off risks as distracting from the real-world limitations and harms of current AI products.

Earlier this year, the US Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into whether OpenAI violated consumer protection laws by scraping public data and publishing false information through its chatbot.

As part of the transition announced Friday, OpenAI’s president and board chairman, Greg Brockman, will be stepping down as chairman of the board but will remain in his role at the company, reporting to the CEO. The statement gave no explanation for that change.

The company said its board consists of OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, and three non-employees: Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Helen Toner of the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

OpenAI’s key business partner, Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars into the startup and helped provide the computing power to run its AI systems, said that the transition won’t affect its relationship.

“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,” said an emailed Microsoft statement.

‘Sam is one of the smartest people I know’

While not trained as an AI engineer, Altman, now 38, has been seen as a Silicon Valley wunderkind since his early 20s. He was recruited in 2014 to take leadership of the start-up incubator YCombinator by its co-founder, investor Paul Graham.


“Sam is one of the smartest people I know, and understands startups better than perhaps anyone I know, including myself,” read Graham’s 2014 announcement that Altman would become Ycombinator’s president. 

Graham said at the time that Altman was “one of those rare people who manage to be both fearsomely effective and yet fundamentally benevolent”.

OpenAI started out as a nonprofit when it launched in 2015 with financial backing from Tesla CEO Elon Musk and others. 

Its stated aims were to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return”.

That changed in 2018 when it incorporated a for-profit business Open AI LP, and shifted nearly all its staff into the business, not long after releasing its first generation of the GPT large language model for mimicking human writing. Around the same time, Musk, who had co-chaired its board with Altman, resigned from the board in a move that the startup said would eliminate a “potential future conflict for Elon” due to Tesla’s work on building self-driving systems.


While OpenAI’s board has preserved its nonprofit governance structure, the startup it oversees has increasingly sought to capitalize on its technology by tailoring its popular chatbot to business customers.

At its first developer conference last week, Altman was the main speaker showcasing a vision for a future of AI agents that could help people with a variety of tasks. Days later, he announced the company would have to pause new subscriptions to its premium version of ChatGPT because it had exceeded capacity.

‘A case of executive transition’

Altman’s exit “is indeed shocking as he has been the face of” generative AI technology, said Gartner analyst Arun Chandrasekaran.

He said OpenAI still has a “deep bench of technical leaders” but its next executives will have to steer it through the challenges of scaling the business and meeting the expectations of regulators and society.

Forrester analyst Rowan Curran said Altman’s departure, “while sudden,” does not likely reflect problems with OpenAI’s business.


“This seems to be a case of an executive transition that was about issues with the individual in question, and not with the underlying technology or business,” Curran said.

Altman has a number of possible next steps. Even while running OpenAI, he placed large bets on several other companies and projects.

Among them are Helion Energy, for developing fusion reactors that could produce prodigious amounts of energy from the hydrogen in seawater, and Retro Biosciences, which aims to add 10 years to the human lifespan using biotechnology. 

Altman also co-founded Worldcoin, a biometric and cryptocurrency project that’s been scanning people’s eyeballs with the goal of creating a vast digital identity and financial network.

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