According to a person familiar with the situation, OpenAI fired Sam Altman due to wide-ranging conflicts between the CEO and his board, particularly Ilya Sutskever, an OpenAI co-founder and the company's chief scientist.
According to the person, who asked not to be identified because they were disclosing private information, the disagreements covered differences of opinion on AI safety, the speed of development of the technology, and the commercialization of the company.
Altman's ambitions may have also contributed to the divorce. According to a source familiar with the investment plan, Altman is aiming to raise tens of billions of dollars from Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds to launch an AI chip firm to compete with Nvidia Corp. processors. Altman was also recruiting SoftBank Group Corp. chairman Masayoshi Son for a multibillion-dollar investment in a new firm alongside former Apple designer Jony Ive to produce AI-oriented gear.
Altman stated in another X post, "I love you all." "Today was a strange experience in many ways," he added. But one unexpected benefit has been reading your own eulogy while you're still alive. The outpouring of love is incredible."
The OpenAI board's disagreements over safety reflect long-standing schisms within the company regarding the appropriate creation of strong AI capabilities – challenges that have plagued the organization from its beginnings. Similar arguments about safety and commercialization drove Elon Musk to abandon OpenAI in 2018, and a group of colleagues left in 2020 to start rival Anthropic.
Sutskever established a new division at the business in July to control "super intelligent" future AI systems. The Israeli-Canadian computer scientist previously worked at Google Brain and was a researcher at Stanford University.
Sutskever's responsibilities at the corporation were curtailed around a month ago, reflecting friction between him and Altman and Brockman. Sutskever later appealed to the board, gaining the support of certain members, including Helen Toner, head of strategy at Georgetown University's Centre for Security and Emerging Technology.
Following Altman's dismissal, Brockman resigned on Friday.
Altman's dismissal surprised both him and Brockman. Brockman stated in the X post that Mira Murati, the company's interim CEO, found out Thursday night. According to Brockman, the rest of the OpenAI leadership found out just before the public release.
The announcement caught top investors and companies in Silicon Valley off guard, throwing the industry's most promising sector into disarray.
Companies firing their founders is part of Silicon Valley's repeating core lore. Steve Jobs was sacked by Apple in 1985, and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey was fired in 2008. Both executives re-joined their firms years later. However, Altman's departure may have a greater impact on the sector he came to represent.
According to spokespeople from numerous firms, in the hectic hours following the company's announcement on Friday, investors at big venture firms had no understanding why the OpenAI leader had been abruptly removed. According to people familiar with the matter, even Microsoft Corp., the startup's largest supporter, did not learn of Altman's dismissal until minutes before the statement went public.
The initial reaction in the tech world was a mix of surprise, dismay, and wild speculation. Investors and IT experts debated views on social media about what prompted the OpenAI board to remove its well-known CEO. Due to a lack of information from the corporation, prediction wagering platform Manifold Markets began accepting bets on the cause.
Altman was still sending regular emails to staff as CEO as of late Friday morning. He even spoke at two events on Thursday, representing OpenAI at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco and at a nighttime event associated to the Burning Man festival, where he discussed the future of AI art.
Earlier this month, the firm held its inaugural developer conference, known as DevDay, in order to generate interest in its products. "I think the developer community really loves to follow audacious visionaries and DevDay happened, I was there, and the excitement was just off the charts," said Matt Schlicht, the founder and CEO of Octane AI. "And that was like a week ago."
Altman has a large presence in the tech industry, investing in and participating in a variety of firms. He was also a strong advocate for AI, and his departure could undermine public trust in the technology. However, like with previous scandals, some believe that the industry will take the news in stride.
"I don't think it will shake anyone's confidence in tech," said Cory Klippsten, CEO of Swan, a bitcoin financial services company. "I think it'll make people take a really close look at what are the biases and rules or protocols that exist in the structure of OpenAI."