ChatGPT maker OpenAI has announced that Sam Altman has been removed as chief executive officer of the company, and as a member of its board of directors. Altman has been replaced by OpenAI's chief technology officer, Mira Murati, who will serve as interim CEO until a permanent replacement can be found.
A reason for Altman's sudden departure was not revealed, but OpenAI's announcement suggests that, from the board's point of view, some sort of impropriety occurred.
"Mr. 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, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities," the announcement states. "The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI."
OpenAI's board of directors expressed gratitude for Altman's "many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI" in the statement, but said that "leadership is necessary as we move forward."
Altman's sudden removal is a genuine shocker. Along with being the chief executive at OpenAI, he was also the public face of the company: He's appeared at various AI-related conferences (including OpenAI's own DevDay just a couple weeks ago), and in May he testified before the US Congress, asking for the creation of a new government agency to regulate AI development. Earlier this week, Altman said on Twitter that OpenAI was "pausing ChatGPT Plus sign-ups," as demand for the service had exceeded its capacity.
But he's also presided over a period of major financial losses at OpenAI, and while that's hardly unexpected from fledgling, cutting-edge tech companies, it likely didn't do him any favors.
Shortly after the news of his dismissal went public, Altman released a brief statement on Twitter, although he offered no insights into the reason behind it. "I loved my time at OpenAI," he wrote. "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."
Whatever the cause, Altman's removal was met with shock and speculation on social media, and some unhappiness with the vague nature of the company's statement. As Twitter user Geoffrey Miller put it, "If your announcement about a change of company leadership leaves millions of people wondering whether this increases or decreases the near-term risk of human extinction, your company needs to rethink more than just its senior management."
Predictably, there was also a certain amount of schadenfreude:
In response to a request for comment, an OpenAI rep directed PC Gamer to the company's blog post announcing Altman's removal. We'll update with more information when it becomes available.