OpenAI Fires Co-Founder and CEO Sam Altman, ‘No Longer Has Confidence’ Says Board; Mira Murati Appointed as Interim CEO

OpenAI, the AI research and deployment company, has ousted its co-founder and CEO, Sam Altman, citing a lack of confidence in his leadership. As a result, Indian-origin techie, Mira Murati, the company's chief technology officer, has been appointed as the interim CEO while OpenAI conducts a search for a permanent replacement. Altman's departure comes shortly after co-founder Greg Brockman also stepped down from his role as the board chair.
OpenAI Fires Co-Founder and CEO Sam Altman, ‘No Longer Has Confidence’ Says Board; Mira Murati Appointed as Interim CEO

Once the face of OpenAI, CEO and co-founder Sam Altman was ousted from the tech company on Saturday, 18 November, after its board of directors said that it "no longer has confidence in his [Altman's] ability to continue leading OpenAI."

In a blog post, the OpenAI board said that following a deliberative review process, it has "concluded that he [Altman] was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities."

It also announced that Altman's office will now be temporarily occupied by Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, who will serve as interim CEO while OpenAI "conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO."

"We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward. As the leader of the company’s research, product, and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period.”

OpenAI blogpost

Another OpenAI Exec Follows Altman Out the Door

Following the board's announcement, Altman said, "I loved my time at openai. It was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit."

"Most of all i loved working with such talented people. will have more to say about what’s next later,” he added on X (formerly Twitter).

However Altman wasn't the only high-ranking executive to head towards the door. OpenAI's statement initially said that co-founder Greg Brockman also stepped down from his role as the chair of the board.

But later, Brockman took to X to announce that he had quit the company "after learning today's news."

Mira Murati, 34, has been elevated to the position of interim CEO of OpenAI recently. Born in 1988 in Albania, Murati is a mechanical engineer by training who built a hybrid race car as an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College, according to a report in the New York Times. In her early days, Murati  worked as an intern in Goldman Sachs and then moved to Zodiac Aerospace. 

She joined OpenAI in 2018 after a stint at Tesla where she played a key role in the development of the Model X car. She also worked in a start up called Leap Motion that developed a computing system to track hand and finger motions. OpenAI promoted her to the role of CTO last year.

According to OpenAI's description, "A member of OpenAI’s leadership team for five years, Mira has played a critical role in OpenAI’s evolution into a global AI leader." She brings a unique skill set, understanding of the company’s values, operations, and business, and already leads the company’s research, product, and safety functions, it said.

Murati said she was “honored and humbled” to step into the leadership role at the company, according to a memo she sent to staff reviewed by news agency Bloomberg.

“We are now at a crucial juncture where our tools are being widely adopted, developers are actively building on our platforms, and policymakers are deliberating on the best ways to regulate these systems,” Murati wrote in the memo.

This is welcome progress and an opportunity to participate in a future where AI is built and used for good, she said.

Meanwhile, during a companywide meeting on Friday, Murati told OpenAI employees that Satya Nadella and Kevin Scott — CEO and CTO, respectively, of Microsoft, one of OpenAI’s biggest backers — had “utmost confidence” in OpenAI’s direction, The Informationsaid in a report.

She reiterated that OpenAI was starting the search for a new CEO.

OpenAI is an AI research and deployment company founded in 2015. While it was founded as a non-profit organisation, in 2019, OpenAI restructured to ensure that the company could raise capital in pursuit of this mission, while preserving the nonprofit's mission, governance, and oversight.

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