On the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving week, a bolt of thunder crashed into the tech world: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman had been fired. The OpenAI board of directors said Altman was fired from the company he cofounded because “he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities,” and appointed CTO Mira Murati to step in as interim CEO.
But it was very quickly clear that there was more to the story. Microsoft, which has invested $13 billion in OpenAI and infused its technology throughout its products, appeared caught off guard by the news. And OpenAI President Greg Brockman resigned a few hours after the Altman announcement, as did several other important employees.
It’s a remarkable turn of events for OpenAI, the company that ignited the generative AI boom when it launched ChatGPT in November 2022, and for Altman, who has been the face of AI since then. Speculation is rife about what caused the board to fire Altman so suddenly, what Altman and Brockman will do next—including whether the pair might be rehired by OpenAI in a last-minute twist—and what this means for Microsoft and the rest of the AI industry.
Here’s the latest:
The OpenAI board is reportedly in discussions with Altman about bringing him back as CEO, according to a report in The Verge on Saturday afternoon, citing multiple anonymous sources. Altman is “ambivalent” about returning to the startup, and would insist on major changes in corporate governance if he accepted, the report said.
A group of OpenAI investors are plotting a pressure campaign to force the company to re-install Altman as CEO, according to report by Forbes. The plan involves investors teaming up with Microsoft to threaten lawsuits and withholding of computing resources, multiple anonymous sources told Forbes. It’s unclear if the pressure campaign reported by Forbes is connected to the board discussions with Altman reported by The Verge.
Altman and Brockman are pitching a new AI startup to investors, the New York Times reported on Saturday, citing three anonymous sources. Altman and Brockman were busy sketching out the vision for the new company on Friday night, and discussing which of their former colleagues to include, according to the report.