In a dramatic turn of events Friday night, former Y Combinator president Sam Altman was fired from his position as CEO of AI startup OpenAI, the company behind viral AI hits like ChatGPT, GPT-4 And DALL-E 3, by the OpenAI Board of Directors. Then the company’s longtime president and co-founder, Greg Brockman, resigned, as did three senior OpenAI researchers. And the fallout continues.
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This is a rapidly evolving situation that we are still trying to get to the bottom of. No doubt more will become clear with time. To make it easier to keep track of everything that’s happened in the meantime, we’ve put together a timeline; we will do our best to keep it up to date.
Timeline of Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI
Ilya Sutskever schedules call with Altman
According to a post on
Murati spoke about Altman’s firing
Brockman states that Mira MuratiOpenAI’s CTO and now interim CEO, was informed Thursday evening that Altman would be fired.
Brockman said he received a text message from Sutskever shortly after noon Friday asking for a quick call. After sending a Google Meet link, Brockman was informed that he was being removed from the board as chairman “but was vital to the company and would retain his role” as chairman, and that ‘Altman had been fired.
Altman’s firing publicly announced
Meeting for all
OpenAI held an all-hands meeting Friday afternoon in which Sutskever defended Altman’s ouster. He rejected suggestions that ousting Altman amounted to a “hostile takeover” and claims that it was necessary to protect OpenAI’s mission to “make AI beneficial to humanity.”
Microsoft issues statement
“As you saw at Microsoft Ignite this week, we continue to innovate rapidly for this era of AI, with more than 100 announcements across the entire technology stack, from AI systems, models and tools in Azure to Copilot. Most importantly, we are committed to delivering all of this to our customers while building for the future. We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, as well as to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to bring the significant benefits of this technology to the world.
Brockman announced his resignation from OpenAI, citing “today’s news.” After sending an internal note, he published the text on X.
Senior OpenAI researchers resign
Three senior OpenAI researchers resigned after Brockman, including research director Jakub Pachocki and preparation chief Aleksander Madry.
“Not… in response to embezzlement”
In an internal note got by Axios sent Saturday morning, Brad Lightcap, COO of OpenAI, said that yesterday’s announcement “took [the management team] by surprise” and that management had “several conversations with the board of directors to try to better understand the reasons and the process behind their decision”. Discussions were underway as of Saturday morning, according to the memo.
“We can confidently say that the board’s decision was not made in response to any malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety or security/privacy practices,” added Lightcap. “This is a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board… We still share your concerns about how the process was handled, we are working to resolve the situation and will provide you with updates in wherever possible.”
OpenAI funding in jeopardy
The expected sale shares of OpenAI employees which would value the startup at around $86 billion could be threatened. L’Information, speaking to three sources formerly of the company, reports that they no longer expect the sale – led by Thrive Capital – to take place or, if it does happen, that it will be accompanied by a lower valuation due to the recent turn of events.
Altman prepares new business
Investors demand Altman’s return
Investors, furious at the turn of events, are would have exerted pressure to the OpenAI board of directors to reinstate Altman, going so far as to recruit Microsoft. Nadella is said to be friendly.
The board of directors agrees to reverse course – in principle
The edge reports that the board agreed in principle to resign and allow Altman and Brockman to return. However, yesterday he missed the deadline for many OpenAI staff to leave the company. Altman is said to be ambivalent about returning and demanding “meaningful” governance changes.