Sam Altman, co-founder of OpenAI, unexpectedly departed from the company following a loss of confidence from the board, as announced by the Microsoft-backed AI pioneer on Friday.
In a statement released, the board highlighted that Altman’s departure stemmed from a lack of consistent transparency in his communications, hindering the board’s ability to fulfil its duties. Consequently, the board expressed a loss of trust in Altman’s leadership at OpenAI.
Altman expressed his fondness for his time at OpenAI in a post on X, “I loved my time at OpenAI. It was transformative for me, and hopefully the world.” He hinted at revealing more about his plans later.
Shortly after, Greg Brockman, another co-founder, also announced his resignation from the company. Initially informed of stepping down from his role as chair but remaining in the company reporting to the chief executive, Brockman decided to leave altogether.
Mira Murati, OpenAI’s Chief Technology Officer, will step in as the interim chief executive, taking over Altman’s position. Altman will also depart from OpenAI’s board, leaving Ilya Sutskever, the group’s chief scientist, as the sole remaining founder on the board.
Brockman expressed surprise at the sudden decision, mentioning that he and Altman received minimal prior notice from Sutskever before the board’s decision, conveyed during a Google meeting.
Altman’s exit reverberated through Silicon Valley, given his significant role in advancing generative AI, notably marked by the launch of the widely popular ChatGPT chatbot a year earlier.
OpenAI, which has garnered substantial investment from various sources including Microsoft and prominent venture funds, now faces uncertainties following Altman’s departure, with questions arising about the impact on a potential employee stock sale.
Despite these changes, OpenAI recently celebrated its developer day, where Altman showcased the company’s AI applications and announced milestones for ChatGPT.
Amidst the upheaval, Microsoft reaffirmed its commitment to its partnership with OpenAI, expressing support for Mira Murati and the team to continue delivering technological advancements.
At the APEC summit in San Francisco, Altman shared his excitement about the future of generative AI. Reflecting on the unexpected turn of events, Altman responded to supportive messages from industry figures, describing it as akin to “reading your eulogy while you’re still alive.”
The board of directors at OpenAI acknowledged Altman’s contributions but emphasized the necessity for new leadership as the company moves forward. The board comprises individuals like Ilya Sutskever, Adam D’Angelo (Quora CEO), Tasha McCauley (technology entrepreneur), and Helen Toner (from the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology).