Sam Altman was fired from OpenAI, Inc., the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that acts as the governing body of OpenAI, the AI startup behind ChatGPT, DALL-E 3, GPT-4 and other high-performance generative AI systems. He will both leave the company’s board of directors and step down as CEO.
In a job On OpenAI’s official blog, the company writes that Altman’s departure follows a “deliberative review process by the Board of Directors” which concluded that Altman “was not always candid in his communications » with the other members of the board of directors, “hindering his ability to exercise his responsibilities”.
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“The board of directors no longer has confidence in [Altman’s] ability to continue to lead OpenAI,” the blog post read.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Altman wrote that he “loved his time at OpenAI” and will have “more to say about what’s next later.”
The radical change in OpenAI’s leadership will also see Greg Brockman – who was a member of the team that co-founded OpenAI, as was Altman – leave his position as chairman of the board but remain chairman of OpenAI, reporting to the Newly appointed interim CEO of the company, Mira Murati. Murati was previously CTO of OpenAI.
OpenAI says it will immediately begin a formal search for a permanent CEO.
“OpenAI was purposefully structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity,” the board wrote in a joint statement. “The Board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the creation and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is needed as we move forward. As head of the company’s research, product and security functions, Mira is uniquely qualified to take on the role of interim CEO. We have the greatest confidence in his ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period.
The OpenAI Board of Directors now consists of OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever; Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora; tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley; and Helen Toner, director of strategy at the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies at Georgetown University.
Altman’s withdrawal comes unexpectedly, to say the least. Last week the company held its first developers conference, OpenAI DevDay, hosted by Altman. Altman spoke Thursday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference and event in Oakland, California. And according to at the edge And The New York Times, citing multiple internal sources, says OpenAI employees learned of Altman’s firing when it was publicly announced.
Altman has been running OpenAI for a long time. After co-founding the company alongside Peter Thiel, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and others, Altman, who previously led startup accelerator Y Combinator and also holds a seat on the board of directors at Worldcoin, the ambitious cryptocurrency project, first served as co-chairman of OpenAI alongside Elon Musk. Musk left in 2018 to avoid a conflict of interest with Tesla.
In recent months, Altman has played an active role in trying to shape regulators’ responses to AI, appearing at U.S. Congressional hearings and personally meeting with world leaders, including President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, among others, on an international political tour.
We don’t know what missteps Altman may have made at the helm of OpenAI…yet. But they are obviously linked to its relationship with the rather unusual composition of OpenAI’s board of directors and corporate governance structure – and perhaps to OpenAI’s active activity. talks to raise substantial new capital.
As a recent article in VentureBeat explored, OpenAI’s for-profit subsidiary, OpenAI Global, LLC, is fully controlled by OpenAI’s non-profit organization. Although the for-profit subsidiary is allowed to commercialize its technology, it is subject to the nonprofit’s mission: to achieve artificial general intelligence (AGI), or AI that can – as OpenAI defines it – ” outperform.” humans at the most economically valuable work.
The board of directors of OpenAI, a non-profit organization, has the authority to both determine when the company has reached AGI and to exclude that AGI from IP licenses and other commercial terms, including with Microsoft, one of OpenAI’s partners. the biggest investors and a faithful integrator of the different OpenAI technologies.
Microsoft has so far invested $13 billion in OpenAI and has a 49% stake in the company. The former’s stock price fell more than 1% in the last 30 minutes of trading, after Altman’s departure was announced; Axios reports Microsoft was informed that Altman would be leaving “minutes” before the public announcement.
OpenAI was founded as a nonprofit organization in 2015, but restructured in 2019 as a “capped profits” company to raise capital – a recognition of the enormous costs associated with training cutting-edge AI systems. Underscoring this point, Altman said in a interview this week, he told the Financial Times that he “hoped” Microsoft would increase its investments to help pay for the “huge” looming costs of training the models.
When contacted by email, OpenAI press relations declined to comment beyond the official blog post. But Microsoft PR gave this statement from Frank Shaw, its communications director: “We have a long-term partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft remains committed to Mira and her team as we bring this new era of AI to our customers. »
Nadella later published a 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.