November 17, 2023
CEO Sam Altman has made an abrupt departure from AI research and deployment company OpenAI. The company announced on Friday that Altman would leave his position at the company and on the board of directors effective immediately. Mira Murati, the company’s CTO, will serve as interim CEO.
Altman’s removal came after a deliberative review process by OpenAI’s board concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with them, hindering their ability to exercise their responsibilities. The board determined that they no longer had confidence in Altman’s ability to lead OpenAI.
In a formal statement, the board 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 Mira Murato
Murati has been a member of OpenAI’s leadership team for five years, playing a critical role in the organization’s evolution into a global AI leader. The board believes that, given her long tenure and close engagement with all aspects of the company, Murati is uniquely qualified to assume the role of interim CEO.
Generally considered to be the face of AI, Altman co-founded OpenAI in 2015 with Elon Musk and others. In November 2022, OpenAI ignited the frenzy for generative AI with its introduction of ChatGPT. Altman’s termination came just days after he had delivered the keynote address at OpenAI’s premiere developer conference.
Microsoft Shares Down
The announcement of Altman’s departure had an immediate effect on Microsoft’s shares, which dropped more than 2%. Microsoft owns a 49% stake in OpenAI, having invested $10 billion in the company at the beginning of this year. Microsoft’s Copilot, highly touted earlier this week at Microsoft Ignite, uses OpenAI’s GPT-4, the next generation in language models.
Greg Brockman, one of OpenAI’s co-founders who served as president and chairman of the board, will step down from his position on the board, although he will remain with the company as president.
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