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Why Sam Altman Was Fired from OpenAI

The last few days have been incredibly dramatic for the AI industry. The arguable leader in AI, Sam Altman, was removed from his seat at OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT, which he co-founded. He was then quickly hired by OpenAI’s largest investor and tech giant Microsoft

Now, OpenAI employees are making a stand in an effort to demand that Altman be reinstated. A vast majority of the company’s employees signed a letter on Monday that called for the current board of directors to resign and Altman be brought back on to lead the organization

Altman then met with the board to discuss the potential of returning to OpenAI but the negotiations failed to amount to anything which subsequently saw Altman hired by Microsoft. With this change he’ll be helping lead Microsoft’s AI research.

Here’s what you should know

TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 - Day 2
By TechCrunch - TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 - Day 2


The board at OpenAI rather forcefully and quickly removed Altman from his position as co founder and longtime CEO. In a blog post, the board wrote that his firing was on the heels of “a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently forthright in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”

Shortly after being fired on Friday, Altman posted on X that he “loved” his time at OpenAI and that his occupancy there had been “transformative”.

Where Did OpenAI Come From?

OpenAI started in San Francisco, California back in 2015 as a nonprofit organization whose goal was to build AGI or “artificial general intelligence”. While determined to make software as smart as or smarter than humans, its original position and focus was to try and prevent advances in artificial intelligence from being monopolized, “gatekept” and aggressively leveraged by large corporations.

OpenAI’s political composition is a little eccentric. In 2019 it had  established a profit-making subsidiary that provided investors with a return on their investment while limiting their maximum gain, with the remaining profits reverting to the organization's nonprofit entity. This structure also grants OpenAI's nonprofit board authority over the for-profit subsidiary's operations, including the power to dismiss the chief executive who at the time, was obviously Altman.


Following Microsoft’s rather abrupt hiring of Altman to help in spearheading an artificial intelligence team, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella expressed the company's eagerness in a post on X by saying “we look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”

Microsoft is positioned firmly in the industry and while progress in AI won’t make or break the organization, the potential to have hundreds of OpenAI employees eager to join Microsoft only bolsters that position


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