The CEO and face of OpenAI and ChatGPT is fired after not being "consistently candid in his communications with the board"

 Satya Nadella and Sam Altman at OpenAI Dev Day.
Satya Nadella and Sam Altman at OpenAI Dev Day.

What you need to know

  • OpenAI CEO and face of the company, Sam Altman, is departing the company effective immediately and will also be removed from the board of directors.

  • Altman, recently seen on stage at OpenAI Dev Day, is being replaced after not being "consistently candid in his communications with the board."

  • Chief technology officer Mira Murati has been appointed as interim CEO, while the Chairman of the Board is also stepping down.

  • Microsoft's statement confirms that it's still committed to its partnership with the OpenAI team.

OpenAI and its flagship product, ChatGPT, have been making headlines recently, but this one is closing with a different type of news. Sam Altman, the now former CEO and public face of OpenAI, is out, effective immediately. In addition, Altman will be removed from the board of directors.

OpenAI has released a public statement as a blog post, and it doesn't sound like anything other than Altman being fired.

Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that 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.

In the interim, OpenAI will be led by its Chief technology officer, Mira Murati, an OpenAI veteran that the board says it has complete confidence in to lead while a permanent replacement is sought. Additionally, Greg Brockman, Chairman of the Board, will be stepping down from that role while remaining at OpenAI and reporting to the CEO.

It's a rather abrupt end for Sam Altman, shortly after he took the stage at OpenAI Dev Day to trumpet the latest innovations being added to ChatGPT. And, of course, sharing the stage with Satya Nadella, CEO of long-time partner Microsoft.

Microsoft remains committed to OpenAI

Microsoft Copilot prerelease 2023
Microsoft Copilot prerelease 2023

Microsoft is OpenAI's biggest partner, with the GPT-4 model and DALLE-3 image generation technology powering Copilot and Bing Image Creator. Microsoft has invested vast sums of money into OpenAI to use its tech over developing its own, so some may question whether this news will have any impact.

That doesn't seem to be the case, though, as Microsoft has issued a statement on remaining committed to the OpenAI team.

Microsoft won't like a falling share price, of course, but that's the unfortunate way of the world. The partnership between Microsoft and OpenAI is close, well-known, and worth a lot of money to both parties. With Microsoft's own AI push heavily reliant on OpenAI, it's no surprise that the share price would get a little shaky.

A year ago, the CEO of OpenAI being fired would barely have been a story. Still, given the rapid rise of AI technology through 2023 and a high-profile partnership with Microsoft, things are very different now. Executives come and go, though, and at least for now, nothing seems to be changing with the products. For those of us using Copilot and ChatGPT, it's business as usual.