Sam Altman, considered the most powerful figure in the AI field, is stepping down as the CEO of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, after an internal review process. “Altman will step down, following a deliberate review by the board of directors, which concluded that he was not consistent and forthright in his communication with the board, impeding his ability to fulfill his responsibilities,” OpenAI announced on the company’s blog on November 17. “The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati will serve as interim CEO with immediate effect. The company will conduct a search for a long-term successor. When contacted by The Verge, OpenAI’s communications department declined to comment. Employees at the company were also reportedly unaware of this information until it was publicly disclosed.
“I loved my time at OpenAI,” Altman wrote on X. “It changed me personally, and I hope the world changes a bit too. Most of all, I loved working with talented people. There will be much to say about what comes next.”
OpenAI’s move was described as “extremely abrupt” and shocked the tech community. Sam Altman has always been the face of OpenAI, referred to as the “boss of ChatGPT” since the chatbot’s launch a year ago. Last week, Altman also opened the company’s first DevDay conference, where significant updates were announced to compete with other tech giants such as Microsoft and Google.
OpenAI also announced that co-founder Greg Brockman will step down as chairman of the board, although he will remain with the company. Microsoft, a company that has invested billions in OpenAI, affirmed its commitment to continue collaborating. “We have a long-term partnership with OpenAI, and Microsoft is committed to supporting Mira and her team as they bring this next era of AI to their customers,” said Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s spokesperson.
Born in 1985, Sam Altman co-founded OpenAI with Elon Musk and other renowned experts in late 2015. As CEO, he helped the company achieve many milestones, especially in 2022 with the launch of ChatGPT and the AI art model Dall-E 2. Altman also secured a billion-dollar deal with Microsoft to ensure a strategic position in the race to leverage advancements in AI.
In September, Altman was named in Time’s Top 100 AI list, honoring individuals with significant contributions to artificial intelligence. The magazine described Altman as “the most powerful person in the AI field today.” He is also the largest shareholder in Humane, the company that recently unveiled the screenless AI Pin phone, dubbed the “iPhone of the AI era.” Altman is private about his personal life but confirmed he is gay from a young age.