Inside the bombshell firing of tech whiz kid Sam Altman that set the AI world alight: How OpenAI sacked their star player in shock move that left staff and investors reeling – including Microsoft – who swooped in to hire him with Machiavellian precision
by: Hani Kamal El-Din
ChatGPT creator OpenAI was seen as an unstoppable force in artificial intelligence, growing from a not-for-profit into an $80billion company in a matter of years – all with co-founder and CEO Sam Altman at the helm.
But a ‘boardroom coup’ on Friday saw his top team turn on him, resulting in a shock sacking that set off three days of chaos at what had been regarded as a confident company at the top of its game.
The sensational firing of Altman, widely revered as the driving force behind the San Francisco firm, saw a groundswell of support from his colleagues and investors which prompted execs to try and reverse the decision.
Altman was said to be open to coming back if a new board and governance system replaced those who deposed him, but he was instead unceremoniously sent packing – sending the AI world into meltdown.
Just hours later, Microsoft made its move – which would again send shockwaves through the industry – with Nadella bringing Altman and his allies on to lead an innovative new AI team.
The dramatic twists did not end there, and in an open letter to the company’s mutinous board, 505 of OAI’s 700 employees expressed a lack of confidence in its leadership.
Signatories surprisingly included Ilya Sutskever, a board member himself who backed the decision to fire Altman, before expressing ‘regret’ at the decision to, as one analyst brutally described it, ‘Ctrl, Altman, Delete’.
Altman, a Stanford dropout, has widely been seen as the driving force behind OpenAI’s success since it was founded by 10 investors and entrepreneurs in 2015.