OpenAI announced on Friday that it has removed its co-founder and CEO, Sam Altman, following a review that revealed a lack of consistent honesty in his communications with the board of directors. The statement mentioned the board’s loss of confidence in Altman’s ability to effectively lead the artificial intelligence company.
In the year since Altman propelled ChatGPT to global recognition, he became a prominent figure in Silicon Valley, discussing artificial intelligence’s promises and potential risks. His abrupt and mostly unexplained departure has brought uncertainty to the industry’s future.
Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, will serve as interim CEO while the company searches for a permanent replacement.
The announcement also included the news of another co-founder and top executive, Greg Brockman, stepping down from his role as the board’s chairman but remaining at the company as president. However, in a later statement on X (formerly Twitter), Brockman stated, “Based on today’s news, I quit.”
OpenAI did not disclose details about Altman’s lack of candor, stating that it hindered the board’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities.
Altman, crucial in starting OpenAI as a nonprofit research laboratory in 2015, gained widespread recognition for ChatGPT’s success. However, the company’s shift to a for-profit business in 2018 and Altman’s focus on potential risks rather than current limitations of AI, have faced criticism.
Microsoft, OpenAI’s key business partner, emphasized that the leadership transition would not impact its relationship with the company.
Altman, a Silicon Valley figure since his early 20s, expressed gratitude for his time at OpenAI but did not provide details about his next steps.
According to some experts, the departure of Altman, considered a shock by industry analysts, is seen as an executive transition rather than a reflection of deeper business issues. OpenAI, with its focus on advancing digital intelligence, will face challenges in scaling the business and meeting regulatory expectations with its new leadership. Altman, known for his involvement in various ambitious projects, including fusion reactors and biotechnology for life extension, now faces potential new ventures.