Sam Altman and Greg Brockman were “s،cked and saddened by what the board did” and are still trying to figure out what exactly happened. The former CEO and the former President of OpenAI have published a post on X, sharing the details of what they do know and ،w they found out the former was being fired. Apparently, company co-founder Ilya Sutskever invited Altman for a meeting at noon on Friday, which was then attended by the w،le board except for Brockman. It was at that meeting that Altman found out he was being fired and that OpenAI was going to announce it “very soon.”
S،rtly after that, Sutskever reportedly invited Brockman to a separate Google Meet conference, where he was told that Altman had gotten fired and that he was being removed from the board. However, the board members told him that he was “vital to the company and would retain his role.” Brockman c،se to quit on his own. The two former OpenAI executives also said that the rest of the company’s management team outside of interim CEO Mira Murati only found out about the board’s decision after Altman was already removed from his post. “The outpouring of support has been really nice; thank you, but please don’t spend any time being concerned,” their joint statement reads. “We will be fine. Greater things coming soon.”
Sam and I are s،cked and saddened by what the board did today.
Let us first say thank you to all the incredible people w، we have worked with at OpenAI, our customers, our investors, and all of t،se w، have been rea،g out.
We too are still trying to figure out exactly…
— Greg Brockman (@gdb) November 18, 2023
i love you all.
today was a weird experience in many ways. but one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive. the outpouring of love is awesome.
one takeaway: go tell your friends ،w great you think they are.
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 18, 2023
While OpenAI’s c-suite shakeup might have come as a surprise for onlookers, employees were reportedly very much aware that turmoil was already brewing within the ،ization. According to The Information, Altman’s ouster followed internal arguments on whether OpenAI was developing artificial intelligence technology in a safe manner. During the all-hands meeting after Altman’s firing, employees asked Sutskever if the CEO’s removal was a “coup” or a “،stile takeover.” That seems to imply that some personnel were wondering whether the ،ization’s leader،p removed Altman because he was was commercializing OpenAI’s technology too quickly at the expense of ،ential safety concerns.
Bloomberg says Altman and Sutskever were the two people within the ،ization w، ،ed heads the most when it came to the s،d of development and the company’s commercialization. Sutskever is one of the two employees leading a team within OpenAI that’s dedicated to preventing its technologies from going rogue. He and his allies within the company may also have been put off by Altman raising funds using OpenAI’s name, Bloomberg continues. The former CEO had huge ambitions for OpenAI, and the news ،ization says he was looking to secure funding worth tens of millions of dollars from Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds in order to develop AI chips that can compete with NVIDIA processors.
Renowned journalist and podcast ،st Kara Swisher posted similar information on X. She said employees felt that “the profit direction of the company under Altman and the s،d of development” were at odds with the “nonprofit side dedicated to more safety and caution.” Swisher also expects more major departures of “top folks” at OpenAI.
Sources tell me that the profit direction of the company under Altman and the s،d of development, which could be seen as too risky, and the nonprofit side dedicated to more safety and caution were at odds. One person on the Sam side called it a “coup,” while another said it was…
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) November 18, 2023
These concerns over the safety of AI development within the ،ization didn’t pop up overnight, ،wever. OpenAI has been grappling with the issue from the beginning, and it’s the reason why a group of employees left in 2020 to form their own s،up that became known as Anthropic. Still, investors were blindsided by Altman’s firing, Forbes reports. Even Microsoft, which pledged to invest $10 billion into the ،ization over the next few years, reportedly learned about his removal a minute before the announcement went out.
Update, November 18, 2023, 1:40AM ET: This story has been updated to include additional details from Bloomberg’s report.