Sam Altman has been among the trending keywords since the weekend. The artificial intelligence (AI) pioneer was ousted from ChatGPT creator OpenAI, the company he co-founded in 2015. Altman was the CEO and among the board members at OpenAI along with being a top voice in the AI space.
After his abrupt firing, the company had been facing turbulence due to pressure from investors and internal employees. Amidst all these, Altman reportedly joined hands with Microsoft and will lead the company’s AI research.
OpenAI was seemingly doing fine before Friday, November 17, 2023, until the company showed then-chief executive officer Sam Altman the way out. The company stated in the official blog post that they found Alltman was not “consistently candid in his communications.”
“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” the company noted.
The company then followed standard procedure and promoted chief technology officer Mira Murati as interim CEO. However, things did not play out as the company board members expected.
As the news started spreading across the industry, it also revealed strange facts. For instance, the decision to fire Altman was so quick that neither investors nor company employees were informed about it.
OpenAI co-founder and then president, Greg Brockman, was also not notified about the decision, according to him. Brockman was also kicked out from the company’s board after which he also resigned from the president’s post as a sign of protest.
Co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever was heading the group of board members who decided on Altman’s dismissal.
Soon Altman showed up on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, and stated “I loved my time at OpenAI.” He seemed disappointed after the development and said that reading about being fired from the company is like “reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive.”
Decision to Fire Sam Altman Did Not Go Unnoticed
Following Altman, Brockman also bid farewell to the company and it did not stop there. Many employees later reportedly gave an ultimatum to bring him back or they would resign too, people aware of the issue told The New York Times.
Then, a pressure campaign started forming against OpenAI that was led by Microsoft. Microsoft had a staggering $13 Billion investment in OpenAI. However, there’s nothing much for the operating system giant company to do given the strange board structure. That makes the return of Altman and Brockman complicated.
OpenAI is primarily a non-profit organization and Altman went on to form OpenAI LP in 2019 to make a for-profit wing. The latter is responsible for artificial intelligence (AI) development work for generating revenue and this move led the company’s valuation to go from zero to billions of dollars. This strange structure makes it almost impossible for Microsoft and Thrive Capital-like investors to take a seat on the board.
Microsoft Hires Altman and Brockman
In a surprising move, Microsoft hired Sam Altman and Greg Brockman and appointed them to lead a new advanced AI research team. CEO Satya Nadella announced on X and stated that the company is moving ahead to provide the resources it needs for its success.
We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett…
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 20, 2023
Altman also shared his joining Microsoft reposing Nadella’s post noting “The mission continues.” Brockman disclosed that the Microsoft AI research team will include more people from OpenAI.