Sam Altman’s Firing From OpenAI: A Timeline And The Fallout


New Leadership and Departures Shake Up OpenAI

In a surprising turn of events, Sam Altman, former president of Y Combinator, was fired as CEO of OpenAI, the AI startup renowned for its breakthroughs in AI technology. This decision, made by the board of directors, has sparked a series of repercussions within the company.

Key Takeaway

The firing of Sam Altman as OpenAI CEO has resulted in a significant shake-up within the company. OpenAI’s board is facing pressure from investors and employees to reinstate Altman. Meanwhile, Altman and Brockman have announced their decision to join Microsoft. As the situation continues to develop, the future of OpenAI and its leadership remains uncertain.

November 16

A call between Altman and Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist and co-founder of OpenAI, was scheduled. This conversation laid the groundwork for the events to follow.

Mura Murati, OpenAI’s CTO and now interim CEO, was reportedly informed of Altman’s firing on the previous night, according to Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s longtime president and co-founder.

November 17

Brockman received a text from Sutskever, stating that Altman had been fired. Brockman was demoted from his position as chairman but assured his continued role as president.

OpenAI made an official announcement about Altman’s departure on their blog. The management team was notified beforehand.

An all-hands meeting was held, during which Sutskever addressed the reasons behind Altman’s removal, stating that it was necessary to safeguard OpenAI’s mission of utilizing AI for the benefit of humanity.

Microsoft, a major investor and partner of OpenAI, released a statement expressing their commitment to the partnership and supporting the new leadership under Murati.

Brockman announced his resignation from OpenAI and published a memo explaining his decision.

Three senior OpenAI researchers, including the director of research and the head of preparedness, also resigned following Brockman’s departure.

November 18

OpenAI’s COO, Brad Lightcap, sent an internal memo stating that the decision to remove Altman was not due to any misconduct or financial issues. Communication breakdown between Altman and the board was cited as the main reason.

The planned sale of OpenAI employee shares, which would have valued the company at around $86 billion, became uncertain due to the recent events.

Altman informed investors about his plans to launch a new venture, potentially in the field of AI chips.

Investors, including Microsoft, exerted pressure on OpenAI’s board to reinstate Altman. The board agreed in principle but missed the deadline set by departing OpenAI staff.

November 19

Altman was expected to meet with OpenAI executives at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, with the aim of being reinstated as CEO.

Board negotiations were ongoing, with Lightcap and Murati advocating for Altman’s return, while the directors resisted. Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor was considered as a possible addition to the board.

Altman will not be returning as CEO, according to an internal memo from Sutskever. Emmett Shear, co-founder of Twitch, was appointed as the interim CEO.

November 20

Altman, along with Brockman and colleagues, announced their decision to join Microsoft and lead a new AI research team. OpenAI employees were assured of resources should they choose to join as well.

Sutskever expressed regret for his role in Altman’s removal and pledged to work towards reinstating him as CEO.

Nearly 500 employees, including Sutskever, threatened to resign unless the board resigned and Altman was reinstated. The number of employees willing to resign continued to grow.

Altman and Brockman remained open to returning to OpenAI if the remaining board members stepped aside.

The OpenAI board approached Dario Amodei, the CEO of rival company Anthropic, about a potential merger. However, Amodei turned down the offer to replace Altman as CEO.

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