Sam Altman, the prominent CEO of OpenAI who became the face of the artificial intelligence boom in the tech industry, has been ousted from the company by its board of directors, OpenAI said in a blog entry Friday evening.
Mira Murati, who previously served as the company’s chief technology officer, has been named interim chief executive, the company said.
“Sir. 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, which hindered his ability to exercise his responsibilities,” the company said. “The board is no longer confident in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
The move by OpenAI’s board is a surprising fall for Altman, 38, who over the past year had become one of the tech industry’s most prominent executives, as well as one of its most fascinating characters.
Altman, a longtime tech entrepreneur, helped found OpenAI with financial backing from Elon Musk in 2015. He led the small San Francisco company into unusual territory: a tech leader funded by billions of dollars from Microsoft and envied by Silicon Valley giants like Google. and Meta, Facebook’s parent company.
He also became a spokesperson for the tech industry’s shift toward AI, testifying before Congress and wowing lawmakers and regulators around the world.
It was not immediately clear what led to the decision by OpenAI’s board of directors. Altman could not immediately be reached for comment.
On Thursday night, Altman appeared at an event in Oakland, California, where he spoke about the future of art and artists now that artificial intelligence can generate images, videos, sounds and other forms of art on its own. Without giving any indication that he would leave OpenAI, he repeatedly said that he and the company would continue to work alongside artists and help ensure his future was bright.
Greg Brockman, who helped found OpenAI along with Altman, will step down as chairman but will remain in his role as president of the company, reporting to the CEO, the company said.
OpenAI launched an industry-wide AI frenzy late last year when it launched online chatbot ChatGPT. The chatbot attracted hundreds of millions of users and captivated people with the way it answered questions, wrote poetry, and discussed almost any topic presented to it.
After the launch of the chatbot, the broader tech industry adopted what is called generative artificial intelligence: technologies that can generate text, images, and other media on their own. These technologies, the result of more than a decade of research within companies like OpenAI and Google, are poised to remake everything from email programs to Internet search engines to digital tutors.
OpenAI is in talks to close a new round of financing that would value the company at more than $80 billion, almost triple its valuation from less than a year ago.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.