OpenAI Board Forces Out Sam Altman, for Cause, but the Reasons Are as Yet Unstated

OpenAI press release:

The board of directors of OpenAI, Inc., the 501(c)(3) that acts as the overall governing body for all OpenAI activities, today announced that Sam Altman will depart as CEO and leave the board of directors. Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, will serve as interim CEO, effective immediately. [...]

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 no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.

By corporate board standards, that statement is absolutely scathing. There’s widespread speculation some sort of scandal must be at the heart of this, but no word yet what.

Altman, on Twitter/X:

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.


That all-lowercase style is consistent for Altman’s personal tweets, but man does it look extra fucking silly in a post like this one.

Just last week Altman hosted OpenAI’s first DevDay keynote (where he did great), and Cade Metz reports for The New York Times, as late as yesterday Altman was still publicly representing OpenAI:

On Thursday evening, Mr. Altman appeared at an event in Oakland, Calif., where he discussed the future of art and artists now that artificial intelligence can generate images, videos, sounds and other forms of art on its own. Giving no indication that he was leaving OpenAI, he repeatedly said he and the company would continue to work alongside artists and help to ensure their future would be bright.

Earlier in the day, he appeared at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit in San Francisco with Laurene Powell Jobs, who is the founder and president of the Emerson Collective, and executives from Meta and Google.

(Altman also just publicly dunked on Elon Musk. I’m sure Musk will just let it slide.)

Lastly, Altman, despite being credited as a co-founder, has no equity in OpenAI. Meta, for example, can’t fire Zuckerberg — same deal for Google with Larry Page and Sergey Brin — but OpenAI could sack Altman with a board vote because he owns none of it, much less a controlling interest.

Friday, 17 November 2023