WASHINGTON: OpenAI, the company that launched ChatGPT a year ago, said Friday (Nov 17) it has dismissed CEO Sam Altman after the board lost confidence in his ability to lead.
The shock firing blindsided many employees who discovered the abrupt management shuffle from an internal announcement and the company’s public-facing blog.
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, travelling 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 rumours rife on social media on what had caused the sudden sacking.
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”.
“It was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit.”
He said he would have “more to say about what’s next later”.
The launch of ChatGPT ignited a race in AI – hailed as the next big chapter in technology – with contenders including tech giants Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Meta.
Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and has woven the company’s technology into its offerings, including search engine Bing.
Google, caught off guard, moved quickly to push out its own AI offerings, including the chatbot Bard.