Mira Murati, previously OpenAI’s chief technology officer, was named interim CEO of the company that introduced to the world the popular chatbot ChatGPT.The company said Murati, daughter of Albanian immigrants, had a “unique skill set” and would provide “a seamless transition” while it conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO.
Within hours, Greg Brockman, a co-founder who had been chairman of the board, said he too would leave the company. In a post on X, Brockman said Altman was fired in a video meeting at noon with the company’s board members, minus Brockman. Three top-level researchers have also reportedly quit.
“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 company said in a statement. “The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
Altman himself was blindsided by the firing, tweeting shortly after being sacked, “Today was a weird experience in many ways. but one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive. The outpouring of love is awesome. One takeaway: go tell your friends how great you think they are.”
A blunt-spoken Stanford University dropout, Altman, 38, co-founded OpenAI after a stellar career that began at 19 when he co-founded Loopt, a location-based social networking mobile application. He also co-founded Tools For Humanity in 2019, a company building a global iris-based biometric system using cryptocurrency, and served briefly as CEO of Reddit, the social news aggregator.
Within days of its launch in November 2022, ChatGPT became a global phenomenon, with users deploying it to draft emails, build websites and do other tasks. It also passed exams from law and business schools, shaking up the academic world.
Following the launch, Altman was pitchforked into the pantheon of tech heroes like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, an early investor in OpenAI before he peeled off. Altman became a global celebrity, undertaking a 22-country world tour that also brought him to India for a meeting with PM Modi.
There was a jarring moment during his India visit when he remarked during an interaction with business leaders that India’s chances of developing a ChatGPT-like tool were “hopeless” despite its talent pool. He later clarified that he was specifically addressing the question of competing with OpenAI with a mere $10 million investment, and his comment was taken out of context.
It was not immediately clear if Microsoft, which has a $ 11 billion investment in OpenAI and incorporates ChatGPT into its Bing search engine, was on board with the Altman firing although it welcomed his successor.
“We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a blog post.