Sacked OpenAI co-founders react: ‘Shocked… Removed over Google Meet calls’

OpenAI co-founders Sam Altman and Greg Brockman on Saturday issued a joint statement, hours after the ChatGPT-maker sacked its CEO and top executive, respectively.

Sam Altman and Greg Brockman

Open AI said on Friday it has pushed out its co-founder and CEO Sam Altman after a review found he was “not consistently candid in his communications” with the board of directors. The announcement also said another OpenAI co-founder and top executive, Brockman, the board’s chairman, would be stepping down from that role but remain at the company, where he serves as president. But later on X, formerly Twitter, Brockman wrote, “based on today’s news, i quit.”

In the joint statement, posted by Brockman on social media X, the outgoing top executives claimed that they were removed over Google Meet calls. Altman and Brockman also said they were “shocked and saddened by what the board did”.

They said while they were still trying to figure out “exactly what happened”, the OpenAI co-founders shared the sequence of events.

“Last night, Sam got a text from Ilya asking to talk at noon Friday. Sam joined a Google Meet and the whole board, except Greg, was there. Ilya told Sam he was being fired and that the news was going out very soon. At 12:19pm, Greg got a text from Ilya asking for a quick call. At 12:23pm, Ilya sent a Google Meet link. Greg was told that he was being removed from the board (but was vital to the company and would retain his role) and that Sam had been fired. Around the same time, OpenAI published a blog post,” the statement said.

“As far as we know, the management team was made aware of this shortly after, other than Mira who found out the night prior,” it added.

Altman and Brockman said the outpouring of support has been “really nice; thank you, but please don’t spend any time being concerned. We will be fine. Greater things coming soon,” they said in the statement”.

In a separate statement, Altman posted on X, “i love you all. today was a weird experience in many ways. but one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive. the outpouring of love is awesome. one takeaway: go tell your friends how great you think they are.”

Altman helped start OpenAI as a non-profit research laboratory in 2015. But it was ChatGPT’s explosion into the public consciousness that thrust Altman into the spotlight as a face of generative artificial intelligence — technology that can produce novel imagery, passages of text and other media. On a world tour this year, he was mobbed by a crowd of adoring fans at an event in London.

He predicted AI will prove to be “the greatest leap forward of any of the big technological revolutions we’ve had so far.” He also acknowledged the need for guardrails, calling attention to the existential dangers future AI could pose.

OpenAI’s key business partner, Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars into the startup and helped provide the computing power to run its AI systems, said that the transition won’t affect its relationship.

“We have a long-term partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft remains committed to Mira and their team as we bring this next era of AI to our customers,” said an emailed Microsoft statement.

While not trained as an AI engineer, Altman, now 38, has been seen as a Silicon Valley wunderkind since his early 20s. He was recruited in 2014 to take lead of the startup incubator YCombinator.

OpenAI President Brockman Says He’s Quitting After Altman Ouster

OpenAI co-founder and President Greg Brockman said he’s departing from the maker of generative artificial intelligence tools just hours after the board pushed out Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman.

OpenAI president Greg Brockman quits

OpenAI co-founder and president Greg Brockman said he is departing from the maker of generative artificial intelligence tools.

“I’m super proud of what we’ve all built together since starting in my apartment 8 years ago,” Brockman wrote in a post on the social media site X. “We’ve been through tough & great times together, accomplishing so much despite all the reasons it should have been impossible. But based on today’s news, I quit.”

“Genuinely wishing you all nothing but the best,” Brockman wrote in his post. “I continue to believe in the mission of creating safe (artificial general intelligence) that benefits all of humanity.”

In one of the moves announced earlier, Brockman was due to step down from his role as board chairman but stay on at the company, reporting to the new CEO.

Mira Murati to be interim CEO of OpenAI

OpenAI’s chief technology officer Mira Murati will serve as interim CEO, the company said, adding that it will conduct a formal search for a permanent CEO.

Murati, who has worked for Tesla previously, joined OpenAI in 2018 and later became the company’s chief technology officer. She oversaw products launches including ChatGPT.

At an emergency all-hands meeting on Friday afternoon after the announcement, Murati sought to calm employees and said OpenAI’s partnership with Microsoft is stable and its backer’s executives, including CEO Satya Nadella, continue to express confidence in the startup, a person familiar with the matter told news agency Reuters.

(With inputs from agencies)

Leave a Comment