In a dramatic turn of events Friday night, former Y Combinator president Sam Altman was fired from his position as CEO of AI startup OpenAI, the company behind viral AI hits such as ChatGPT, GPT-4 and DALL-E 3, by the OpenAI Board of Directors. Then the company’s longtime president and co-founder, Greg Brockman, resigned, as did three senior OpenAI researchers. And the fallout continues.
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This is a rapidly evolving situation that we are still trying to get to the bottom of. No doubt more will become clear with time. To make it easier to keep track of everything that’s happened in the meantime, we’ve put together a timeline; we will do our best to keep it up to date.
Timeline of Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI
Ilya Sutskever schedules call with Altman
According to a post on
Murati spoke about Altman’s firing
Brockman alleges that Mira Murati, OpenAI’s CTO and now interim CEO, was informed Thursday evening of Altman’s firing.
Brockman said he received a text message from Sutskever shortly after noon Friday asking for a quick call. After sending a Google Meet link, Brockman was informed that he was being removed from the board as chairman “but was vital to the company and would retain his role” as chairman, and that ‘Altman had been fired.
Altman’s firing publicly announced
OpenAI published a blog post announcing the executive reshuffle. The company’s management team was informed shortly thereafter.
Meeting for all
OpenAI held an all-hands meeting Friday afternoon in which Sutskever defended Altman’s ouster. He rejected suggestions that excluding Altman amounted to a “hostile takeover” and said it was necessary to protect OpenAI’s mission to “make AI beneficial to humanity.”
Microsoft issues statement
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, a major investor and partner in OpenAI, released a statement on Altman’s firing:
“As you saw at Microsoft Ignite this week, we continue to innovate rapidly for this era of AI, with more than 100 announcements across the entire technology stack, from systems, models and tools to AI in Azure to Copilot. Most importantly, we are 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 our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, as well as to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to bring the significant benefits of this technology to the world.
Brockman announced his resignation from OpenAI, citing “today’s news.” After sending an internal note, he published the text on X.
Senior OpenAI researchers resign
Three senior OpenAI researchers resigned after Brockman, including research director Jakub Pachocki and preparation chief Aleksander Madry.
“Not… in response to embezzlement”
In an internal memo obtained by Axios and sent Saturday morning, Brad Lightcap, COO of OpenAI, said that yesterday’s announcement “took (the executive team) by surprise” and that management had had “several conversations with the board to try to better understand the reasons and process behind their decision.” decision.” Discussions were underway Saturday morning, according to the memo.
“We can confidently say that the board’s decision was not made in response to any malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety or security/privacy practices,” added Lightcap. “This is a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board… We still share your concerns about how the process was handled, we are working to resolve the situation and will provide you with updates in wherever possible.”
OpenAI funding in jeopardy
The planned sale of OpenAI employee shares, which would value the startup at around $86 billion, could be compromised. The Information, speaking to three former sources at the company, reports that they no longer expect the sale – led by Thrive Capital – to take place or, if it does happen, to be accompanied by a lower valuation due to the recent turn of events.
Altman prepares new business
Altman told investors he was considering launching a new business, according to The Information. Brockman should join this effort, whatever form it takes. (Maybe an AI chip boot.)
Investors demand Altman’s return
Investors, furious at this turn of events, reportedly pressured OpenAI’s board to reinstate Altman, going so far as to recruit Microsoft. Nadella is said to be friendly.
The board of directors agrees to reverse course – in principle
The Verge reports that the board agreed in principle to resign and allow Altman and Brockman to return. However, yesterday he missed the deadline for many OpenAI staff to leave the company. Altman is said to be ambivalent about returning and demanding “meaningful” governance changes.
Altman will meet at OpenAI headquarters
According to The Information, Altman is expected to meet at OpenAI headquarters in San Francisco as OpenAI executives push for him to be reinstated as CEO. Brockman has been invited to join – but it’s unclear whether he will accept the leaders on that invitation.
Board negotiations hit a roadblock
Bloomberg reports that Lightcap and Murati, among others, are pushing the board to reinstate Altman. But unsurprisingly, the directors resist. As of midday Sunday, the board had not resigned for fear of who might replace him and was reviewing candidates. One possible new addition could be Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor.
Altman out, shear in
Altman will not return as CEO, according to a report in The Information citing an internal memo sent by Sutskever. As the search for a new permanent CEO continues, OpenAI has named Emmett Shear, co-founder of video streaming site Twitch, as interim CEO, replacing Murati.
Altman joins Microsoft
Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and colleagues announce they will join Microsoft to lead a new AI research team. Nadella leaves the door open for other OpenAI staff, saying they will receive the resources they need if they choose to join us.
Sutskever’s mea culpa
Sutskever publishes an article on X suggesting that he regrets his decision to remove Altman and will do everything in his power to reinstate Altman as CEO.
Employees threaten to resign
Nearly 500 of OpenAI’s roughly 770 employees — including, remarkably, Sutskever — publish a letter saying they could resign unless the startup’s board resigns and reappoints ousted Altman . Later Monday, that number rose to more than 650.
Altman and Brockman plan to return
As The Verge reports, Altman’s move to Microsoft isn’t a done deal – and Altman and Brockman are still open to returning to OpenAI. That is, if the other board members who initially fired him stepped down.
OpenAI board considers merger
OpenAI’s board of directors has contacted Dario Amodei, co-founder and CEO of rival model developer Anthropic, about a possible merger of the two companies, The Information reports. This approach was part of an effort by OpenAI to persuade Amodei to replace Altman as CEO – but Amodei quickly declined the CEO’s offer.
Altman and board in talks
OpenAI’s board of directors is reportedly in talks with Sam Altman, former president of Y Combinator and co-founder of OpenAI, to return to OpenAI as CEO as early as this week. This is revealed by Bloomberg, which in a statement, citing sources close to the matter, said that discussions were underway between Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora, one of the current members of the board of directors of ‘OpenAI, and Altman, and perhaps other board members as well.