Sam Altman: why was Open AI CEO fired, who is Mira Murati, who are the board members - what he said on Twitter

Altman helped found OpenAI nearly a decade ago

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The board of ChatGPT maker OpenAI has announced the removal of co-founder and CEO Sam Altman, saying he was “not consistently candid in his communications” with the board.

“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” the company said in a statement, which also said Altman’s behaviour was hindering the board’s ability to exercise its responsibilities.

OpenAI announced that Mira Murati, the company's chief technology officer, will step in as interim CEO with immediate effect while it searches for a permanent successor. A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what the alleged lack of candour was about.

Altman posted on Friday (17 November) on X, formerly Twitter, saying: “i loved my time at openai. it was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. most of all i loved working with such talented people. will have more to say about what’s next later.”

Who is Sam Altman?

Sam Altman speaks to the media in July 2023 (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)Sam Altman speaks to the media in July 2023 (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Sam Altman speaks to the media in July 2023 (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Altman helped start OpenAI as a non-profit research laboratory in 2015, with financial backing from Tesla chief executive Elon Musk and others. Its stated aims were to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return”.

That changed in 2018 when it incorporated a for-profit business Open AI LP, and shifted nearly all its staff into the business, not long after releasing its first generation of the GPT large language model for generating paragraphs of readable text.

Around the same time, Musk, who had co-chaired its board, resigned from the board in a move that the start-up tied to eliminating a “potential future conflict for Elon” due to Tesla’s work on building automated driving systems.

In the past year, Altman was thrust into the global spotlight as the face of OpenAI after ChatGPT exploded into public consciousness; on a world tour earlier this year, Altman was mobbed by a crowd of adoring fans at an event in London.

Just on Thursday (16 November), he took part in a CEO summit at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation conference in San Francisco, where OpenAI is based.

Altman predicted AI will prove to be “the greatest leap forward of any of the big technological revolutions we’ve had so far”, but also acknowledged the need for guardrails to protect humanity from the existential threat posed by quantum leaps being taken by computers.

“I really think the world is going to rise to the occasion and everybody wants to do the right thing,” Altman said.

What does it mean for OpenAI?

As part of the transition announced on Friday, OpenAI’s president and board chairman Greg Brockman will be stepping down as chairman of the board but will remain in his role at the company, reporting to the CEO. The statement gave no explanation for that change.

The company said its board consists of OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever and three non-employees: Quora chief executive Adam D’Angelo, tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner of the Georgetown Centre for Security and Emerging Technology.

OpenAI’s key business partner, Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars into the start-up and helped provide the computing power to run its AI systems, said on Friday that the transition will not affect its relationship.

“We have a long-term partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft remains committed to Mira and their team as we bring this next era of AI to our customers,” said an emailed Microsoft statement.

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