In a surprise announcement, Sam Altman, the outspoken and highly visible CEO of artificial intelligence technology giant OpenAI, has been ousted from the company, effectively immediately.
In a statement posted online Friday, the company said Altman “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,” the announcement continued. “We believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward.”
The move comes less than two weeks after Altman presided over OpenAI’s DevDay conference, where a number of significant new features and improvements in its ChatGPT generative AI service were announced. Just two days ago, OpenAI said it was not accepting any new paid subscriptions due to demand exceeding capacity—a move that came soon after the company suffered outages blamed on Russian hackers.
Concurrent with Altman’s ouster, OpenAI chief technology officer Mira Murati was appointed to serve as interim CEO.
“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,” OpenAI said. “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.”
Describing Murati as “uniquely qualified for the role,” the company said it expects a seamless transition as a search gets underway for a permanent CEO.
“We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI,” the statement noted.
“I loved my time at OpenAI,” Altman wrote on Twitter. “It was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit.”
i loved my time at openai. it was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. most of all i loved working with such talented people.
will have more to say about what’s next later.
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 17, 2023
Altman could not be reached for comment, and OpenAI has not responded to a request for further comment from Decrypt.
The company also revealed that board chairman Greg Brockman would be stepping down, but remain at OpenAI as a direct report to Murati.
Brockman co-founded OpenAI in 2015, serving as its first CTO. He came to the AI firm from fintech company Stripe, where he had risen to the position of CTO after studying computer science at Harvard University and MIT.
Altman is also co-founder of Tools for Humanity, which developed the Worldcoin global crypto project. Although some enrollees saw the company’s pitch to collect retinal scans as a quick way to make money, it has met strong resistance in some circles as an invasion of privacy—or worse.
It is unclear if Altman’s removal from OpenAI is related to Worldcoin, which earlier this year appeared poised to raise significant funding.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.