On Friday, the board of OpenAI, the company behind the viral chatbot ChatGPT, abruptly and publicly ousted its CEO, Sam Altman. The announcement came a day after he made a public appearance on behalf of his company at the APEC CEO Summit on Thursday.
OpenAI's board said it conducted a “deliberative review process” and that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, which hindered his ability to carry out his responsibilities.”
“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” the board's statement continued.
As of this week, OpenAI's six-member board included OpenAI co-founder and president Greg Brockman, who also served as board chairman; Ilya Sutskever, Chief Scientist of OpenAI; Adam D'Angelo; Tasha McCall; Helen Toner; And Altman himself. The company began publicly posting a list of its board members on its website in July, following the departures of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Neuralink CEO Siobhan Zilis and former Texas congressman Will Hurd.
Here's an overview of the board behind the controversial shakeup:
Greg Brockman: OpenAI co-founder Brockman resigned from the company on Friday in protest of Altman's ouster, saying publicly: “Sam and I are shocked and saddened by what the board did today.” Brockman spent five years as Stripe's CTO before moving on to help OpenAI. In 2020, Brockman said that OpenAI's main obstacle in its first five years was the idea that making the full scale of the startup's work public was not necessarily beneficial to humanity, in his eyes. At the time, he said, “We realized that when these things become powerful, they're dual-purpose … and that we have a responsibility as technology developers to not just say, ‘Hey, we built this thing.' Let the world decide how to use it.”
Ilya Sutskever: At the moment, Sutskever is the only remaining OpenAI co-founder on the board. Co-founded DNNResearch – an AI startup focused on neural networks – and after selling GoogleSutzkever joined Google as a research scientist and stayed for nearly three years before moving to OpenAI as co-founder and director of research. Since November 2018, he is the chief scientist of the company.
Adam D'Angelo: The current CEO of Quora, a social question-and-answer platform, D'Angelo spent nearly four years Facebook and was the tech giant's CTO from 2006 to 2008. He is not an employee of OpenAI.
Tasha McCall: McCall, who is not an OpenAI employee, is on the board of directors of both OpenAI and GeoSim Systems, a geospatial technology company. He is a senior management scientist at the Rand Corporation and has been on the board of OpenAI since 2018.
Helen Toner: Toner is a board member, not an OpenAI employee, who spent time at Oxford University's Artificial Intelligence Management Center and was director of strategy at Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technologies for nearly five years. last year toner told him The Journal of Political Risk states that “building AI systems that are safe, reliable, fair, and interpretable is a huge open problem…organizations developing and deploying AI must also recognize that defeating competitors in the marketplace or in the battle in the field.—It's useless if the systems they run are buggy, breakable, or unpredictable.
earlier this year, Microsoft The expanded investment in OpenAI — an additional $10 billion — made it the largest AI investment of the year, according to PitchBook. In April, the startup reportedly completed a $300 million stock sale at a valuation of between $27 billion and $29 billion, with investments from firms such as Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. Despite significant investment, Microsoft has no board seat in OpenAI.
“While our partnership with Microsoft involves a multi-billion dollar investment, OpenAI remains a completely independent company managed by the OpenAI non-profit organization,” OpenAI said publicly. “Microsoft has no board seat or control. And… AGI is expressly carved out in all commercial and IP licensing agreements. These agreements reflect why we chose Microsoft as our computing and commercial partner.”
Microsoft had no new comments to add Saturday, and requests for comment from board members were not immediately returned to CNBC.
OpenAI's product feature announcements earlier this month showed that one of the technology's hottest companies is rapidly developing its offerings to stay ahead of competitors like Anthropic. Google and Meta In the AI arms race.
ChatGPT, which set records as the fastest-growing consumer app in history months after its launch, now has about 100 million weekly active users, OpenAI said this month. More than 92% of Fortune 500 companies use the platform, up from 80% in August, and they span industries such as financial services, legal applications and education, says Mira Murat, interim CTO of OpenAI.
News of Altman's ouster comes on the heels of OpenAI's Dev Day, the company's first in-person event, on Nov. 6, which also featured a surprise appearance by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
“The systems needed as you aggressively move forward on your roadmap require us to be at the top of our game, and we're committed to making sure you all have not only the best systems for training. And the bottom line, but also the most compute,” Nadella told Altman while on stage together at Dev Day. He added: “That's how we make progress.”
That day, Altman told Nadella, “I think we have the best partnership in technology, and I'm excited to build AGI together.”
Last month, OpenAI was reportedly in talks to complete a deal that would result in an $80 billion valuation. When CNBC asked OpenAI executive Brad Lightcap about the deal, he declined to comment.
At OpenAI's Dev Day, in response to a CNBC question about GPT-5, Altman said, “We want to do it, but we don't have a timeline.”