Written by 10:15 pm AI, Discussions, Uncategorized

### Two Explanations for Sam Altman’s Dismissal at OpenAI

During a late Sunday meeting, Ilya Sutskever relayed two explanations for Altman’s ouster. Th…
  • During a staff conference, Ilya Sutskever from OpenAI presented two reasons for the dismissal of CEO Sam Altman.
  • These reasons included statements made by Altman to the board regarding certain executives.
  • However, these justifications were not well-received by the majority of the staff, leading to a potential exodus from the company.

Sam Altman, the co-founder and former CEO of OpenAI, was ousted due to reported integrity issues, with the board citing two instances as evidence.

Emmett Shear, the ex-CEO of Twitch, was introduced as the new interim CEO of OpenAI, succeeding Mira Murati, who had temporarily taken over from Altman. The announcement was made during a brief meeting held at one of the company’s San Francisco offices, with only a small group of employees present, while the rest staged a walkout. The Verge was among the first to report on the conference.

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Throughout the day, the team awaited news about Altman’s reinstatement as CEO. On Sunday night, over a span of approximately 30 minutes, employees were informed internally about Altman’s return, then his non-return, and finally about Shear’s appointment. The identities of the sources remain confidential due to the sensitive nature of the information. Business Insider is aware of their identities.

One staff member described the reaction to Shear’s appointment as “extremely negative,” with emotions running high among the already tense employees.

Following his involvement in the decision to remove Altman via Google Meet, co-founder and chief scientist Sutskever took the responsibility of announcing Shear’s appointment. Attendees noted a sense of restraint in Sutskever’s demeanor during the meeting.

The tech community and OpenAI staff had been puzzled by the company’s brief statement accusing Altman of lacking transparency in his communications with the board.

As per sources, Sutskever relayed two reasons allegedly provided by the board. The first reason suggested Altman had assigned the same task to two employees at OpenAI.

The second reason indicated that Altman had expressed contradictory opinions about a staff member to different board members. Despite attempts to seek clarification from OpenAI’s leadership, no responses were received.

Reportedly, these explanations did not resonate with the staff and were met with skepticism. Internally, the prevailing belief is that the board’s decision was a mere “power play,” as described by sources within and outside the company. Consequently, the board’s justifications hold little sway over the staff, according to insiders.

Shortly after the meeting, an open letter protesting the board’s decision and advocating for Altman’s reinstatement was circulated among employees and signed by OpenAI executives, including Murati and Sutskever. By midday Monday, over 90% of the staff had reportedly signed the letter.

The letter outlined the staff’s willingness to resign unless Altman was reinstated, new board members were appointed, or both actions were taken.

Currently, Altman is reportedly in negotiations for a potential exit package while maintaining an interim position at Microsoft, facilitated by CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI with investments exceeding $10 billion, holds a significant stake in the company.

Sources familiar with the situation expressed concerns about potential mass resignations, stating, “People are furious, and a mass exodus is imminent.”

The current board members of OpenAI include Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora, Tasha McCauley, a tech investor, Helen Toner, director of the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and Sutskever. Despite signing the protest letter, Sutskever remains an official board member. Previous members such as Altman and Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president, have since stepped down.

Following Altman’s removal, Murati initially faced backlash from employees for her role in the transition. However, tensions have reportedly eased since then.

Sources suggest that Murati consistently deferred to Sutskever in the aftermath of Altman’s departure. Speculation abounds regarding the future involvement of key figures within OpenAI, particularly in light of Altman’s potential non-return and Sutskever’s public expression of regret over his role in the board’s decision. Some anticipate Sutskever may not be immediately forgiven or offered the chance to continue working within the company or with Microsoft on future projects.

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Last modified: February 23, 2024
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