OpenAI co-founder and president Greg Brockman has quit the firm, he said Friday, hours after the Microsoft-backed giant abruptly fired its chief executive Sam Altman and assured that Brockman would remain at the startup. Brockman’s sudden departure adds to the day’s uncertainties at OpenAI, following closely on the heels of its maiden developer conference led by Altman.
Brockman said in a series of tweets that Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist at OpenAI, informed Altman about a Friday noon call on Thursday evening. On the call, Sutskever and the rest of the OpenAI board members told Altman that he had been fired.
“As far as we know, the management team was made aware of this shortly after, other than Mira who found out the night prior,” Brockman wrote. Mira Murati, the CTO of OpenAI, has been appointed as interim CEO of OpenAI, the startup said today.
OpenAI earlier said that Brockman was stepping down as chairman of the board, but will remain at the firm. Brockman, who co-founded OpenAI with Altman, is a close confidant of the former OpenAI chief executive. He said Friday that the board wanted him to continue, but he had chosen to resign and was saddened by the board’s direction.
OpenAI and Microsoft, which is not on the board of the startup but owns roughly half of the company, remain tightlipped about what led to the ouster of Altman from the startup, whose large language model kickstarted / supercharged the AI race.
The pair’s exit has sent shockwaves through Silicon Valley. Altman has been the public face of the startup, which not only is widely estimated to be leading the current AI race but has in less than a year also assumed the position of kingmaker for countless other startups that are building atop of OpenAI’s offerings.
“I’m super proud of what we’ve all built together since starting in my apartment 8 years ago. We’ve ben through tough & great times together, accomplishing so much despite all the reasons it should have been impossible,” wrote Brockman in a message to OpenAI team. “But based on today’s news, I quit. Genuinely wishing you all nothing but the best. I continue to believe in the mission of creating safe AGI that benefits all of humanity.”
Earlier on Friday, OpenAI said Altman had left the firm after losing the confidence of the board. OpenAI said Altman was leaving the firm after a “deliberative review process” by the board” concluded that he was “not consistently candid in his communications” with the board, which hindered “its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”
The announcement comes less than two weeks after OpenAI held its maiden developer conference, where Altman shared that ChatGPT had amassed 100 million users. Microsoft chief Satya Nadella, who was a chief guest at the conference, said “we love you guys.” In a later interview with FT, Altman said he expected to raise “a lot more” from Microsoft and other investors in the future.
“We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world,” Nadella said in a statement Friday.