OpenAI fires ChatGPT star CEO Sam Altman in shocking move
Washington DC - OpenAI, the company that launched ChatGPT a year ago, said Friday it had dismissed CEO Sam Altman in a shock firing of a central figure in the AI revolution.
Altman (38) became a tech world sensation with the release of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot with unprecedented capabilities, churning out human-level content like poems or artwork in just seconds.
He quickly rose to become Silicon Valley's newest star, traveling the world to meet with political leaders and huge audiences fascinated by the promise and threats of AI.
His dismissal caught the tech world completely by surprise, with rumors flying on social media on what had caused the sudden firing.
OpenAI's board said in a statement that Altman's departure "follows a deliberative review process," which concluded "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," it concluded.
In a post on X, Altman said he "loved my time at OpenAI." He went on to say that "it was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit." Altman added that he would have "more to say about what's next later."
The statement said the board was "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."
Altman would be replaced on an interim basis by Mira Murati, the company's chief technology officer, the statement said.
"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," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to AFP.
Greg Brockman to step down as chairman of the board for OpenAI
OpenAI's board of directors consists of OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, Quora CEO Adam D'Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology's Helen Toner.
The statement added that Greg Brockman, a close associate of Altman's, would step down as chairman of the board, but stay at the firm, reporting to the new CEO.
Altman earlier this month led a major developer's conference for OpenAI, announcing a new set of products that were largely met positively in Silicon Valley.
The young executive on Thursday told AFP he understood some of the worries over AI and its disruptive powers.
"[I have] lots of empathy for why anyone would feel, however they feel, about this," he said of the platform that is credited with launching the revolution in generative artificial intelligence.
Altman was speaking on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco where he was swarmed by fans after his appearance, many of whom wanted to take selfies with him.
Cover photo: Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP