July 13, 2024
OpenAI CEO says custom GPTs delayed


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[Update 9:04pm: This story is still unfolding. Co-founder Brockman, who quit after learning of the news of Altman’s firing, has followed up with a tweet saying he and Sam Altman were “shocked by what the board did” and “are still trying to figure out what happened.” He then provided a brief chain of events that centered around how co-founder Ilya Sutskever led the board in the firing of Altman]

Talk about a Friday news dump: In a shocking move, OpenAI, the company best known for ushering in the era of consumer-facing generative AI with ChatGPT and its underlying GPT-3.5 and GPT-4 Large Language Models (LLMs), today announced that it has taken the extraordinary step of immediately firing co-founder Sam Altman as CEO and replacing him with chief technology officer Mira Murati, who will serve as interim CEO while the company conducts a search for a full-time replacement.

The move was made by the OpenAI board of directors.

As a blog post on the OpenAI website reads of Altman: “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.”

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Altman’s sudden removal comes shortly after OpenAI’s DevDay developer conference, in which the company unveiled a host of new innovations including customizable user-generated GPTs, and amid ongoing public allegations of childhood abuse from his sister, Annie Altman. An OpenAI spokesperson told VentureBeat via email that the news was not related to Annie’s allegations.

Yet Sam himself took a positive tone about his exit, posting on his personal X account that he “loved my time at openai” and alluded to a “next” chapter for himself.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was among those who praised Altman following the exit announcement, calling him a “hero.”

Sam’s brother, Jack Altman, also a tech entrepreneur and CEO of the HR software company Lattice, posted his support on X.

Another leadership shift

OpenAI’s blog post also noted that Greg Brockman would be stepping down from his role as chairman of the board at OpenAI, but continue to serve in his role as president of the company. Yet Brockman suddenly announced he had quit the company at 4:09 p.m. PT in an X post.

OpenAI’s board is comprised of OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, independent directors Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Helen Toner of the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology. The board, until this transition, also included OpenAI’s co-founder and now former CEO Sam Altman, along with Brockman.

Under Altman, OpenAI achieved notable innovations like its GPT LLMs but also drew criticism over transparency and ethics issues as it rapidly expanded capabilities.

The board stated that “OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity.” They remain committed to this founding purpose.

Altman helped establish OpenAI in 2015 alongside Brockman, Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, Elon Musk, and others. He served as CEO for eight years overseeing growth from an unknown startup to a leading AI powerhouse.

The board now believes “new leadership is necessary as we move forward” to maintain focus on OpenAI’s mission during its next phase of development.

Murati has been with OpenAI for 5 years and currently oversees research, product development, and safety.

Read the full OpenAI blog post on the matter below:

Chief technology officer Mira Murati appointed interim CEO to lead OpenAI; Sam Altman departs the company.

Search process underway to identify permanent successor.

The board of directors of OpenAI, Inc, the 501(c)(3) that acts as the overall governing body for all OpenAI activities, today announced that Sam Altman will depart as CEO and leave the board of directors. Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, will serve as interim CEO, effective immediately.

A member of OpenAI’s leadership team for five years, Mira has played a critical role in OpenAI’s evolution into a global AI leader. She brings a unique skill set, understanding of the company’s values, operations, and business, and already leads the company’s research, product, and safety functions. Given her long tenure and close engagement with all aspects of the company, including her experience in AI governance and policy, the board believes she is uniquely qualified for the role and anticipates a seamless transition while it conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO.

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.

In a statement, the board of directors 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 board of directors consists of OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, independent directors Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology’s Helen Toner.

As a part of this transition, Greg Brockman will be stepping down as chairman of the board and will remain in his role at the company, reporting to the CEO.

OpenAI was founded as a non-profit in 2015 with the core mission of ensuring that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. In 2019, OpenAI restructured to ensure that the company could raise capital in pursuit of this mission, while preserving the nonprofit’s mission, governance, and oversight. The majority of the board is independent, and the independent directors do not hold equity in OpenAI. While the company has experienced dramatic growth, it remains the fundamental governance responsibility of the board to advance OpenAI’s mission and preserve the principles of its Charter.

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