Scroll to the top

{{ subpage.title }}

The OpenAI-Sam Altman drama: Why should you care?
The OpenAI-Sam Altman drama: Why should you care? | GZERO AI | GZERO Media

The OpenAI-Sam Altman drama: Why should you care?

Taylor Owen, professor at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University and director of its Centre for Media, Technology & Democracy, co-hosts GZERO AI, our new weekly video series intended to help you keep up and make sense of the latest news on the AI revolution. In this episode of the series, Taylor Owen takes a look at the OpenAI-Sam Altman drama.

Hi, I'm Taylor Owen. This is GZERO AI. So if you're watching this video, then like me, you're probably glued to your screen over the past week, watching the psychodrama play out at OpenAI, a company literally at the center of the current AI moment we're in.

Read moreShow less
Courtesy of Midjourney

“Like asking the butcher how to test his meat”: Q&A on the OpenAI fiasco and the need for regulation

AI-generated art courtesy of Midjourney

The near-collapse of OpenAI, the world’s foremost artificial intelligence company, shocked the world earlier this month. Its nonprofit board of directors fired its high-profile and influential CEO, Sam Altman, on Friday, Nov. 17, for not being “consistently candid” with them. But the board never explained its rationale. Altman campaigned to get his job back and was joined in his pressure campaign by OpenAI lead investor Microsoft and 700 of OpenAI’s 770 employees. Days later, multiple board members resigned, new ones were installed, and Altman returned to his post.

To learn more about what the blowup means for global regulation, we spoke to Marietje Schaake, a former member of the European Parliament who serves as the international policy director of the Cyber Policy Center at Stanford University and as president of the Cyber Peace Institute. Schaake is also a host of the GZERO AI video series.

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Read moreShow less

Sam Altman, who has just been ousted as CEO of OpenAI, is seen here testifying before a Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology & the Law Subcommittee back in May 2023.

REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/File photo

A chaotic shakeup at OpenAI

OpenAI’s board of directors fired Sam Altman as CEO on Friday — a shock decision with ramifications for the entire AI industry. After Altman and allies campaigned throughout the weekend to get him reinstated, the board affirmed its decision and brought in former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear to lead the company responsible for ChatGPT. Trouble is, that there may be no one left to lead.

Read moreShow less

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, California, on Nov. 16, 2023, just a day before being fired by his board of directors.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Ask ChatGPT: What will Sam Altman achieve for Microsoft?

On Friday, the tech world was abuzz with the news that Sam Altman, the 38-year-old co-founder of OpenAI, had been pink-slipped by the firm’s board of directors after a hastily called Google Meet. OpenAI’s other co-founder, Greg Brockman, also decided to leave the company after the board demoted him in the same meeting. By late Sunday, they both had new jobs.

According to insiders, Altman had been moving “too fast” in the development of new AI technology. Board members were reportedly concerned about OpenAI’s recent developer conference and the announcement of a means for anyone to create their own versions of ChatGPT. Ilya Sutskever, a key researcher and board member who was also one of the co-founders of OpenAI, was reportedly concerned about the dangers posed by OpenAI’s technology and believed Altman was downplaying that risk. The board was also apparently uncomfortable with Altman’s attempt to raise $100 billion from investors in the Middle East and SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son to establish a new microchip development company.

Altman’s firing was only possible because of the unique corporate structure of OpenAI. Despite being a co-founder, Altman had no equity in the company. The company’s board controls OpenAI’s 501(c)(3) charity, OpenAI Inc., which was established via a charter to “ensure that safe artificial general intelligence is developed and benefits all of humanity.” That charter takes “precedence over any obligation to generate a profit.”

Altman did not take it lying down. On Saturday night, he tweeted “i love the openai team so much.” Hundreds of employees, including interim CEO Mira Murati and COO Brad Lightcap, liked or reposted the tweet within the hour. Over the weekend, investors also rallied behind Altman, including Thrive Capital, Tiger Global, Khosla Ventures, and Sequoia Capital. A plan to sell as much as $1 billion in employee stock now hangs in the balance; Thrive Capital was set to lead that tender offer and to value OpenAI at $86bn.

Despite the pressure, OpenAI’s board chose not to reinstate Altman – they refused to meet his demands of there being a new board and governance structure – and announced Sunday evening that Emmett Shear, former chief executive of Twitch, will replace him as CEO. Shear faces a tough job, given that so many OpenAI staffers had threatened to quit unless Altman returned.

But some of them may have a landing pad: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella posted late Sunday on X that Altman, Brockman, and their team will be joining Microsoft to lead a “new advanced AI research team.”

Subscribe to our free newsletter, GZERO Daily