On November 17, artificial intelligence (AI) startup OpenAI shockingly announced the firing of its CEO Sam Altman – and reaffirmed that decision on November 19 with the hiring of Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear in as the new CEO.
In the meantime, the tech world was shaken, Altman’s colleagues rallied to his side, Greg Brockman, then chairman and co-founder of OpenAI, also resigned, and Altman’s board of directors OpenAI held discussions to possibly reinstate Altman while facing enormous public backlash from shareholders and employees. .
Here’s what’s happened so far.
Thursday November 16
Ilya Sutskever schedules call with Altman
According to an X (formerly Twitter) post from Brockman, OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever messaged Altman on Thursday evening to schedule a meeting for Friday afternoon.
Sam and I are shocked and saddened by what the board did today.
Let’s first say thank you to all the incredible people we’ve worked with at OpenAI, our customers, our investors, and everyone who’s reached out to us.
We too are still trying to understand exactly…
-Greg Brockman (@gdb) November 18, 2023
Additionally, he claimed that Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, was informed that Altman would be fired that evening.
Friday November 17
Brockman informed that Altman had been fired
Just after noon on Nov. 17, Brockman said Sutskever sent him a text message, asking him to answer a call immediately. After joining the call a few minutes later, he was informed that he was being removed from the OpenAI board but would retain his role as chairman and that Altman had been fired.
OpenAI publicly declares that Altman is absent
OpenAI announces leadership transition https://t.co/fFYDLwGXQz
-OpenAI (@OpenAI) November 17, 2023
Microsoft releases statement on OpenAI
Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest investor and partner, released a statement regarding Altman’s ouster, with CEO Satya Nadella attempting to calm market nerves and reassure that Altman’s removal would not have a major impact on the future of the partnership.
“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 to the team.
Following the public announcement of Altman’s departure, Brockman announced his own resignation.
-Greg Brockman (@gdb) November 18, 2023
Resignations pile up
Following Brockman’s resignation, a number of OpenAI’s senior executives followed suit, with the company’s Head of Readiness, Aleksander Madfry, and Director of Research, Jakub Pachocki, announcing their respective resignations .
Saturday November 18
The shock shot was a surprise for management
Brad Lightcap, OpenAI’s chief operating officer, said the announcement took the entire management team by surprise, according to an internal report. note seen by Axios on November 18.
“We can confidently say that the board’s decision was not made in response to any wrongdoing or anything related to our financial, business, safety or security/privacy practices. This was a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board.
Altman plans new business
Media Company Information reported By November 18, Altman had already started discussing a new AI-related business with investors. Brockman is expected to join Altman in whatever projects he pursues.
Microsoft ‘furious’ over Altman’s exit, pushes board to bring him back
Bloomberg reported On November 18, Microsoft CEO Nadella was “furious” at the decision and began pushing the board to consider reinstating Altman as CEO.
Board of directors agrees to reconsider Altman’s position
The edge reported On November 18, OpenAI’s board “agreed in principle” to resign and return Altman as CEO and Brockman as president.
Multiple sources asserted Sutskever’s “critical role” in Altman’s firing, suggesting there was a flashpoint of tension between the nonprofit and for-profit sides of the company.
Sunday November 19
Altman to OpenAI before decision deadline
Altman posted a photo to X on November 19 at OpenAI headquarters with a guest badge, as the deadline for a decision on his reinstatement as CEO was 5 p.m.
first and last time I wear one pic.twitter.com/u3iKwyWj0a
– Sam Altman (@sama) November 19, 2023
Bringing Altman back as CEO could require the board to issue an apology as well as a statement clearing him of any wrongdoing, sources told Bloomberg.
Microsoft eyes board seat as insiders push for Altman’s return
Information reported on November 19, Microsoft was considering either a board seat or a non-voting board observer role if Altman returned. Bloomberg reported Earlier, OpenAI’s top executives were pushing for Altman’s return, including interim CEO Murati, chief strategy officer Jason Kwon and COO Lightcap.
Former Twitch exec Emmett Shear hired as new CEO of OpenAI
Information reported On November 19, the US board of directors was unwilling to compromise and instead chose Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as the new CEO, while interim CEO Murati planned to reinstate Altman and Brockman in their respective roles. in the business.
So here’s what happened at OpenAI this evening. Mira planned to rehire Sam and Greg. She has transformed Team Sam over the last few days. The idea was to force the board to fire everyone, which they thought the board would not do. The council went into total silence. They found their own CEO, Emmett Shear.
-Ashlee Vance (@ashleevance) November 20, 2023
Monday November 20
Satya Nadella joins Sam Altman to Microsoft’s AI research team
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has decided to hire former OpenAI team members CEO Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman to lead a new advanced AI research team.
We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and are confident in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and to continue supporting our customers and partners. We can’t wait to get to know Emmett…
– Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 20, 2023
Shortly after Nadella’s announcement, Altman retweeted the post saying“the mission continues,” inferring its commitment to the advancement of AI technology.