OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, has fired its CEO and co-founder Sam Altman.
Altman led the U.S. company through its rollout of ChatGPT, which has become one of the most well-known artificial intelligence products in the world.
After four years as CEO, OpenAI’s six-member board voted to remove Altman from the role.
What is OpenAI?
Altman launched the start-up OpenAI with Tesla owner Elon Musk in 2015 and became CEO in 2019. The company’s stated mission was to “benefit humanity as a whole”.
OpenAI is most known for launching the conversational bot ChatGPT, which can generate content like essays and poems from user prompts.
The technology has sparked global concerns about accuracy, security, and transparency.
OpenAI’s six-member board is responsible for governing the company’s decisions.
The board announced Altman was stepping down late last week. In a statement, it said members lost confidence in Altman because he was “not consistently candid” with them.
Until Altman was fired, the board was made up of three OpenAI executives (including Altman) and three outside directors.
Chair stands down
OpenAI chair Greg Brockman has also been removed from the board.
Brockman said he was excluded from the vote against Altman and notified of the board’s decision after the fact.
There are now four members on OpenAI’s board, which has appointed chief technology officer, Mira Murati, as the interim (stand-in) CEO.
A statement from the board of directors said OpenAI was “grateful” for Altman’s contributions to “the founding and growth” of the company. “At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward,” it read.
A joint statement from Altman and Brockman said they were “shocked and saddened” by the decision.
“We too are still trying to figure out exactly what happened.”
None of OpenAI’s biggest investors have seats on the company’s board, meaning they had no say in the decision to remove Altman as CEO.
One of OpenAI’s biggest funders, Microsoft, said the leadership changes won’t affect its relationship with the company.
Earlier this year, Microsoft reportedly invested $US10 billion ($AU15.3 billion) in OpenAI.
There are some media reports that Altman will return. According to The New York Times, Altman has the support of investors and senior figures at OpenAI to return.
Last night, Microsoft announced OpenAI’s Altman and Brockman will join the company to lead a new advanced AI research team.