Investors Unhappy after Sam Altman’s Friday Surprise Firing from Open AI

From a WTF moment to the threat of a mass exodus from the company, the decision by the Open AI board to fire its CEO and co-founder Sam Altman has led to staff recriminations, a chorus of dismay from investors and attempts by numerous other companies to poach the high-profile executive while Open AI now is in talks to woo him back.

In a classic corporate snafu—from a board that still operates in a quasi-nonprofit form—the firing at the end of the Friday workday, half an hour before the closing of the stock market, sent ripples through the management of Microsoft, which had invested $10 billion into Open AI this year. The Microsoft executive team were notified a minute before the news went public, according to

According to The Washington Post, the decision appears to be advocated by board member Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief researcher.

“The power struggle revolved around Altman’s push toward commercializing the company’s rapidly advancing technology versus Sutskever’s concerns about OpenAI’s commitments to safety, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to the story written by a reporting team including Gerrit De Vynck, Nitasha Tiku and Pranshu Verma.

Altman is one of the highest-profile AI executives because of his push to release ChatGPT, the chatbot that has revolutionized AI as a tool globally. Altman not only became key to the company image after the departure of Elon Musk, but his reputation as a canny business manager who transformed the company into the powerhouse it is known as today had attracted billion-dollar investors.

Sam Altman, former CEO and co-founder of Open AI, was photographed at a TechCrunch conference in 2017. (Source: Flickr/Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch, Creative Commons license)

Regardless of what Open AI does, Altman and the other co-founder of Open AI, Greg Brockman, who quit after the firing, have the opportunity to take advantage of other offers to start a new AI entity to do what they want to do in spite of the caution that some Open AI board members are advocating.