Sam Altman, Chief Executive Officer of OpenAI, and Mira Murati, Chief Technology Officer of OpenAI, speak during The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech Live Conference in Laguna Beach, California on October 17, 2023.
Patrick T. Fallon | Afp | Getty Images
Sam Altman’s sudden ouster from OpenAI on Friday shocked Silicon Valley. Not only was Altman, 38, CEO of the most well liked startup on the planet, but he had emerged because the face of generative AI after his company’s ChatGPT chatbot went viral late last yr.
From the skin, there have been some signs of technological challenges at OpenAI, but no indications that tensions were emerging within the boardroom and the C-suite. Altman was still out and about, proselytizing the worth of advanced artificial intelligence while also warning of its potential harms and advocating for regulation.
Just last month, reports surfaced that OpenAI was in talks with investors to sell worker shares at an astonishing $86 billion valuation. That is after tech valuations corrected dramatically over the past 18 months from the decade-long bull market that was fueled by low-cost money and an entire lot of FOMO (fear of missing out).
OpenAI was the industry darling in a time of difficulty. Microsoft was pouring in billions of dollars. The corporate topped CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list, which was published in May. Shortly before the list got here out, Altman told CNBC, “I do think we’re deep right into a recent technological wave and that is, I feel, the most important one shortly.”
That each one made Altman’s exit hard to fathom and had some within the tech community comparing the move to Apple’s firing of Steve Jobs in 1985. In a statement on its website, OpenAI said, “The board now not has confidence in his ability to proceed leading OpenAI.” The corporate named Mira Murati, who was the chief technology officer, as interim CEO.
If you happen to followed Altman for the past two weeks, you’ll’ve seen an industry leader in the middle of the motion. Here’s an abbreviated timeline of the times leading as much as Altman’s departure:
Altman took the stage at OpenAI’s DevDay event in San Francisco, where he announced GPT-4 Turbo, the corporate’s strongest AI model. Users were also given access to all of OpenAI’s tools, reminiscent of its image-generator DALL-E and PDF upload, inside ChatGPT.
On the event, Altman said prices for OpenAI’s software could be cut and individual users could customize ChatGPT. He also unveiled an OpenAI app store, an extra way that the corporate and its investors could monetize its products.
In a surprise appearance, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined Altman on stage to debate the long run of OpenAI and their partnership. Microsoft committed an extra $10 billion earlier this yr, the most important AI investment of 2023, in keeping with PitchBook.
“I feel we’ve got the most effective partnership in tech,” Altman told Nadella onstage. “I’m excited for us to construct AGI together,” he said, referring to artificial general intelligence.
ChatGPT temporarily crashed within the morning. The chatbot told users that “ChatGPT is at capability straight away” and the update page called it a “major outage.” After a bit of over an hour, the problem was fixed before experiencing difficulties again later within the day.
OpenAI said within the evening that its issues were related to a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
“We’re coping with periodic outages attributable to an abnormal traffic pattern reflective of a DDoS attack,” the corporate said.
Issues endured into the following day before being fixed.
Altman posted on X, formerly Twitter, that there could be a pause in signing up for ChatGPT Plus. He said there had been a surge in requests after the DevDay announcements and that usage “has exceeded our capability and we would like to be certain that everyone has an awesome experience.”
Altman appeared on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, speaking on AI.
At 3:28 p.m. ET on Friday, OpenAI published the blog post announcing Altman’s dismissal. At the identical time, the corporate said Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president, was being stripped of his role as chairman of the board but would stay on as an executive.
Here’s what happened next:
Altman made his first public statement about his departure, writing on X that his experience at the corporate was “transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a bit of bit.”
Brockman announced on X that he’d quit the corporate “based on today’s news,” and said he was “super pleased with what we have all built together since starting in my apartment 8 years ago.”
In an X post, Brockman provided a detailed account of Altman’s removal.
He said that on Thursday night, Altman received a text from OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever asking in the event that they could talk the following day at noon. On Friday afternoon, Brockman wrote, Altman joined a Google Meet with OpenAI board members Sutskever, Tasha McCauley, Adam D’Angelo and Helen Toner. Brockman, who was chairman of the board presently, wasn’t there.
Within the meeting, Sutskever told Altman he was out as CEO. Shortly after that, Sutskever informed Brockman he was being removed as chairman but could remain president. OpenAI’s blog post was released at “around the identical time,” Brockman wrote.
He said that it appeared Murati only knew of the move the night before. Altman reposted Brockman’s chronicling of the events.
Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap sent a memo to OpenAI employees addressing the firing. Lightcap said everyone was caught by surprise on the board’s decision and said Murati “has our full support as CEO.”
“We will say definitively that the board’s decision was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices,” Lightcap wrote.
— CNBC’s Jordan Novet contributed to this report
WATCH: OpenAI says Sam Altman exiting as CEO