In a stunning turn of events, frontier AI research lab OpenAI has lost both its CEO and President in the span of a single day.
On Friday, the OpenAI board abruptly fired CEO Sam Altman and appointed chief technology officer Mira Murati as interim CEO. Altman had been CEO since founding OpenAI in 2015 along with Greg Brockman, who served as president.
Just hours after Altman's termination, Brockman announced his resignation as well. In a message to OpenAI staff, Brockman said "based on today's news, I quit."
Brockman had been a crucial figure at OpenAI, leading engineering efforts on products like ChatGPT that propelled the company to prominence. As President, he oversaw daily operations and strategy.
The board said its decision to fire Altman came down to concerns about his communications and leadership approach. In a blog post, they stated Altman had not been fully transparent and forthcoming with the board.
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.
Altman's ouster is particularly shocking given his towering status in the AI world. As former president of Y Combinator, he helped launch OpenAI as a nonprofit in 2015 with the aim of developing artificial general intelligence to benefit humanity.
Brockman alluded to the difficulty of OpenAI's journey in his resignation letter, noting they had accomplished much "despite all the reasons it should have been impossible."
Update: Altman and Brockman have released a joint statement providing more details on the events leading up to their departures. They expressed shock and sadness over the board's actions, which they said occurred suddenly in virtual meetings on Friday.
According to the statement, the management team was mostly unaware except for Murati who found out the night prior. Altman and Brockman thanked supporters but said not to be concerned, adding "Greater things coming soon."
The additional context underscores the abruptness of the leadership shakeup at OpenAI, raising further questions about the board's decision-making process. Altman and Brockman's statement hints at potential disagreement with Ilya Sutskever and the rest of the board over the company's direction.