Shock: Sam Altman fired from OpenAI, and Greg Brockman leaves also

[German]It is a real quake and the employees of OpenAI are probably shocked. The founder and figurehead of OpenAI has been fired as CEO and Greg Brockman has also been removed from the board. Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati is to take over as CEO on an interim basis. Microsoft was probably informed a minute before the whole thing became public.


It is only a rather short message dated November 17, 2023, entitled OpenAI announces leadership transition, which was released to the public by OpenAI. It states that Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati has been appointed interim CEO to lead OpenAI. The previous CEO and founder of OpenAI, Sam Altman, is leaving the company. The search for a permanent successor as CEO is underway.

OpenAI announces leadership transition

Chief technology officer Mira Murati appointed interim CEO to lead OpenAI; Sam Altman departs the company.

Search process underway to identify permanent successor.

The board of directors of OpenAI, Inc., the 501(c)(3) that acts as the overall governing body for all OpenAI activities, today announced that Sam Altman will depart as CEO and leave the board of directors. Mira Murati, the company's chief technology officer, will serve as interim CEO, effective immediately.

A member of OpenAI's leadership team for five years, Mira has played a critical role in OpenAI's evolution into a global AI leader. She brings a unique skill set, understanding of the company's values, operations, and business, and already leads the company's research, product, and safety functions. Given her long tenure and close engagement with all aspects of the company, including her experience in AI governance and policy, the board believes she is uniquely qualified for the role and anticipates a seamless transition while it conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO.

Mr. Altman's departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.

In a statement, the board of directors said: "OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam's many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward. As the leader of the company's research, product, and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period."

OpenAI's board of directors consists of OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, independent directors Quora CEO Adam D'Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology's Helen Toner.

As a part of this transition, Greg Brockman will be stepping down as chairman of the board and will remain in his role at the company, reporting to the CEO.

OpenAI was founded as a non-profit in 2015 with the core mission of ensuring that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. In 2019, OpenAI restructured to ensure that the company could raise capital in pursuit of this mission, while preserving the nonprofit's mission, governance, and oversight. The majority of the board is independent, and the independent directors do not hold equity in OpenAI. While the company has experienced dramatic growth, it remains the fundamental governance responsibility of the board to advance OpenAI's mission and preserve the principles of its Charter.

Ms. Mira Murati has been a member of OpenAI's leadership team for five years and has played a critical role in building OpenAI into a world-leading AI company, according to the announcement above. The OpenAI board consists of OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, Quora Independent Chairman Adam D'Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner of the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

At the same time, it was announced that Greg Brockman would step down as Chairman of the Board, but would remain in his role at the company, reporting to the CEO. A few hours after the dismissal, Greg Brockman then announced that he would also be leaving OpenAI ("based on today's news, I quit").

Nebulous reasons for the dismissal

The surprising firing of a founder and Management Board member should actually have serious reasons. The above statement states that the dismissal followed a review process by the Executive Board. This concluded that Altman's communication with the Executive Board was not consistently open. This had hindered the Board's ability to perform its duties. The Board no longer had confidence in his ability to continue to lead OpenAI.

Overall, the dismissal seems to have been quite a hasty move by the previous board (see below). Microsoft, which has pumped billions of dollars into OpenAI, was informed of the sacking a minute before the news went public, according to Axios. The company seems to have been caught cold – in a blog post, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella writes:


"We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to fulfill our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap. We remain committed to our partnership, Mira and the team."

This is a blow to Microsoft's lofty plans, who have big plans for OpenAI and its ChatGPT and want to build LLMs into all Microsoft products as a co-pilot. The change of leadership will definitely cause unrest in the OpenAI

Disagreement over profit the reason?

The action must really have happened as a knee-jerk reaction by the board of directors, as can be seen from a tweet by (now former) OpenAI President and co-founder Greg Brockman, who was also dismissed.

Greg Brrockmann zur Altman-Entlassung

Sam Altman received an invitation from Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever at short notice for a Google Meet discussion with the OpenAI board, at which he learned that he had been fired and that this would be announced to the public afterwards. Board member Greg Brockman was no longer present at this meeting. He received a message from Ilya Sutskever at 12:19 with a request for a quick online meeting. At 12:23 he then received a message from Ilya Sutskever that he had been removed from the board but (because he was essential to the company) would be allowed to continue working at OpenAI.

It's also worth noting that they use Google Meet instead of Microsoft Teams at OpenAI, even though they have received billions in funding from Microsoft. But that's just a side note.

Decisions seem to have been made at extremely short notice. Greg Brockman then also resigned from OpenAI (see the following tweet).

Statements von Altman und Brockman

A few hours ago, Sam Altman and Greg Brockman published the above statement on X. Now speculation is running rampant as to what might have happened. There is a direct theory from Kara Swisher, who says in the following tweet that the lack of profits that OpenAI is not generating is the reason.

Grund für OpenAI-Entlassungen?

There was also an incident in the last few days that I noticed but didn't mention in the blog. Microsoft prohibited its employees from using ChatGPT for security reasons. I didn't get any details or a reason for this. But the following tweet (as a screenshot of this entry on outlines some thoughts.

OpenAI Vorfälle

I can't wait to see what else comes to light. And why does that remind me of the "You are Fired" at another US company, can't remember the name?

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