• btc = $64 395.00 -23.80 (-0.04 %)

  • eth = $3 508.99 4.29 (0.12 %)

  • ton = $7.63 0.43 (5.99 %)

  • btc = $64 395.00 -23.80 (-0.04 %)

  • eth = $3 508.99 4.29 (0.12 %)

  • ton = $7.63 0.43 (5.99 %)

29 May, 2024
2 min time to read

On November 17th, 2023, OpenAI’s board unexpectedly ousted co-founder and CEO Sam Altman, despite the rapid success of ChatGPT.

In a revealing interview on The TED AI Show podcast, former board member Helen Toner provided insights into the reasons behind the board's decision and the events that followed.

Toner explained that the board felt compelled to act secretly due to fears that Altman would undermine their efforts.

[I]t was very clear to all of us that as soon as Sam had any inkling that we might do something that went against him, he would pull out all the stops, do everything in his power to undermine the board, to prevent us from even getting to the point of being able to fire him.

She cited Altman's failure to disclose his ownership of the OpenAI Startup Fund and multiple instances of providing inaccurate information about the company's safety processes. Additionally, Toner accused Altman of attempting to push her off the board after she published a research paper he disliked.

Concerns escalated after two executives reported a toxic work environment and accused Altman of psychological abuse and manipulation. These issues, combined with the board learning about ChatGPT's launch via Twitter rather than through official channels, led to the decision to remove Altman.

[W]hen ChatGPT came out November 2022, the board was not informed in advance. We learned about ChatGPT on Twitter.

Despite the board's action, pressure to reinstate Altman quickly mounted. Employees and investors, including Microsoft, supported his return. Toner explained the pressure as a result of fear of the company's collapse, Altman's intimidation tactics, and his troubled track record in previous positions, including Y Combinator and his startup Loopt.

Current OpenAI board chair Bret Taylor responded, stating that an independent review by WilmerHale found the board’s decision was not based on concerns about product safety, development pace, finances, or external statements. He emphasized that over 95% of employees, including senior leadership, supported Altman's reinstatement and the resignation of the prior board, stressing the company's commitment to its mission of ensuring AGI benefits all of humanity.