OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Ousted by the Company's Board of Directors
- By John K. Waters
Update: OpenAI has rehired Altman. Full story here.
Sam Altman, the high-profile CEO of AI research and deployment company OpenAI, was pushed out of his position today by the board of directors, the company announced today in a blog post. He is also leaving the board, the post said. Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati was appointed interim CEO.
"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 post reads. "The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI."
Altman, who became the virtual face of the recent rocket-rise of AI, confirmed that he has stepped down in a tweet on X:
Murati has been a member of OpenAI’s leadership team for five years and has played a critical role in OpenAI’s evolution into a global AI leader, the company said.
"She brings a unique skill set, understanding of the company’s values, operations, and business, and already leads the company’s research, product, and safety functions," the company said. "Given her long tenure and close engagement with all aspects of the company, including her experience in AI governance and policy, the board believes she is uniquely qualified for the role and anticipates a seamless transition while it conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO."
The company is conducting a formal search for a permanent CEO. The company said in a statement: "OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward."
Altman is a longtime tech entrepreneur who helped to found OpenAI with Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, and Greg Brockman in 2015. The company is headquartered in San Francisco and was originally a non-profit organization. OpenAI became a for-profit organization in 2019. Microsoft invested $1 billion in the company in 2019 and a $10 billion in 2023.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reacted to the news of Altman's departure today in a statement:
"As you saw at Microsoft Ignite this week, we’re continuing to rapidly innovate for this era of AI, with over 100 announcements across the full tech stack from AI systems, models, and tools in Azure, to Copilot. Most importantly, we’re 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 on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world."
Greg Brockman will also be stepping down as chairman of the board, but will remain as OpenAI's president reporting to the new CEO.
In 2019 the company announced GPT-2, a large language model capable of generating realistic text responses to human-generated queries. In 2021 the company released Dall-E, a generative AI model that creates images based on text descriptions. Just over a week ago, the company announced a number of major enhancements of its flagship text-generating AI model, GPT, including GPT-4 Turbo.
John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.