In a sudden turn of events, Sam Altman, the ex-president of Y Combinator, was dismissed as CEO of AI startup OpenAI, which led to a series of resignations and an ongoing fallout.
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This rapidly evolving situation is still unfolding. More details are expected to emerge as time progresses. To help keep track of the developments, we have compiled a timeline to provide clarity on the sequence of events.
Timeline of Sam Altman’s departure from OpenAI
Microsoft gains a board observer
OpenAI announced that Microsoft will have representation on the new initial board of directors through a non-voting observer. The identity of the observer was not immediately disclosed but they will not have an official vote in board matters.
Agreement reached for Altman’s return as CEO
OpenAI revealed an agreement in principle with Sam Altman for his return as CEO. The new “initial” board would include Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo.
Altman also posted about the new deal, providing insight into the situation since his dismissal. His decision to join Microsoft was deemed the best path, and the new board’s composition and support from Microsoft seemed to have influenced his return to OpenAI.
Discussions with Altman for CEO role
Bloomberg reported talks between OpenAI’s board and Sam Altman for his potential return as CEO. Discussions involved Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, a current member of the OpenAI board, and possibly other board members.
Board tensions lead to fallout
The New York Times reported that Sam Altman’s attempt to remove board member Helen Toner contributed to the current situation at OpenAI, along with other issues. Negotiations to reinstate Altman as CEO were ongoing, with a major point of contention being “guardrails” to improve Altman’s communication with the board.
Altman joins Microsoft
Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, and colleagues announced their move to Microsoft to lead a new AI research team, with the possibility for other OpenAI staff to join. Nadella left the door open for their transition, assuring the necessary resources would be provided.
Sutskever expressed regret for his involvement in the board’s actions and pledged to do everything possible to reinstate Altman as CEO.
Nearly 500 of OpenAI’s approximately 770 employees, including Sutskever, threatened resignation unless the board resigned and reinstated Altman. The number of dissenting employees later surpassed 650.
Potential return to OpenAI
As reported by The Verge, Altman’s move to Microsoft was not finalized, leaving the possibility of his and Brockman’s return to OpenAI if the remaining board members who ousted them step aside.
OpenAI’s board approached Dario Amodei of rival company Anthropic for a potential merger, as part of efforts to persuade Amodei to replace Altman as CEO. However, Amodei declined the offer.
Altman to meet at OpenAI HQ
Altman was expected to meet at OpenAI’s San Francisco headquarters as executives pushed for his reinstatement as CEO. Brockman was invited to join, although his response was unclear.
Board negotiations stall
Bloomberg reported resistance from some directors to reinstate Altman, while Lightcap and Murati, among others, were pushing for the reinstatement. The board had not resigned by midday Sunday due to concerns about potential replacements, with the possibility of Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor joining the board.
Amid the search for a new permanent CEO, OpenAI appointed Emmett Shear as interim CEO, replacing Murati, as reported by The Information.
Board dismisses Altman
An internal memo stated that Sam Altman would not return as CEO. The search for a new CEO was ongoing, and Emmett Shear, the co-founder of Twitch, was appointed as interim CEO, replacing Murati.
This timeline outlines the sequence of events surrounding Sam Altman’s departure from OpenAI and the subsequent developments. The situation remains fluid as new developments continue to unfold. Stay tuned for further updates.