Sam Altman, known for his pivotal role in steering OpenAI’s journey and acclaimed for ChatGPT, encountered a sudden board ousting on Friday, hinting at potential conduct issues.
The board’s official statement highlighted a lack of consistent candidness in Altman’s communications, impeding the board’s oversight responsibilities. Altman’s alleged failure to maintain transparent and consistent communication with the board led to hindrances in executing their duties effectively.
“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’s statement reads.
“The board no longer has confidence in his (Atman’s) ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
The well-known entrepreneur in his late thirties was reportedly informed about his dismissal by Ilya Sutskever, a fellow co-founder and a board member, minutes before issuing the public statement.
The board acknowledged Sam’s key contributions in establishing and expanding OpenAI, but it also underscored the necessity for new leadership as the organization advances. They specifically presented the company’s chief technology officer Mira Murati as exceptionally qualified person for the interim CEO role, overseeing the company’s research, product development, and safety measures.
“. . . we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward. As the leader of the company’s research, product, and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO,” the statement reads.
“We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period.”
His absence of immediate response to requests for comment post-announcement suggests a lack of transparency or willingness to address the situation publicly.
Greg Brockman, a co-founder and the board chair at OpenAI, announced his resignation through X soon after the company’s statement without explicit reasons.
“Sam and I are shocked and saddened by what the board did today,” Brockman wrote on X.
Brockman’s departure alongside Altman’s raises further questions about potential underlying issues in leadership or conduct within the company.
Speculations by an anonymous OpenAI investor hint at the gravity of concerns regarding Altman’s alleged lack of candor, potentially causing ramifications like employee departures. Investor concerns imply significant apprehensions surrounding Altman’s conduct, potentially affecting the company’s stability and workforce.
Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, witnessed a brief stock market decline. It fell 1.7% after the news of Altman’s exit. The stock dropped a further 0.7% in the extended session Friday.
The suddenness of the news and its impact on Microsoft’s stock value clearly indicates an unease or a surprise within key stakeholders due to potential concerns regarding Altman’s leadership.
After the public announcement, some tech leaders publicly posted about their admiration of Altman.
“Sam Altman is a hero of mine. He built a company from nothing to $90 billion in value, and changed our collective world forever,” former Google CEO Eric Schmidt wrote on X.
On Thursday, Altman took the stage at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco. Addressing a gathering of hundreds comprising business and government leaders, he emphasized the potential of AI systems. Altman conveyed that responsible development of these technologies could effectively address humanity’s most urgent challenges.
The specific conduct-related issue behind the board’s decision to remove the OpenAI pioneer still remains unclear. Nevertheless, Altman’s abrupt ousting raises numerous questions, suggesting deeper underlying concerns that could potentially affect OpenAI’s direction and stability.