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Sam Altman’s final days as OpenAI CEO gave no indication that trouble was brewing

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and OpenAI Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati speak at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, October 17, 2023.

Patrick T. Fallon | Afp | Getty Images

Sam Altman’s sudden ouster from OpenAI on Friday shocked Silicon Valley. Altman, 38, was not only CEO of the hottest startup on the planet, but he had also become the face of generative AI after his company’s ChatGPT chatbot went viral at the end of the year last.

From the outside, there were some signs of technological challenges at OpenAI, but there was no indication that tensions were emerging within the board and senior management. Altman was always on the move, proselytizing the value of advanced artificial intelligence while warning of its potential harms and advocating for regulation.

Last month, reports emerged that OpenAI was in talks with investors to sell employee shares at a stunning valuation of $86 billion. This follows a dramatic correction in tech valuations over the past 18 months after a decade-long bull market fueled by cheap money and lots of FOMO (fear of missing out).

OpenAI was the darling of the industry during difficult times. Microsoft poured out billions of dollars. The company topped CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list, released in May. Shortly before the list was released, Altman told CNBC: “I think we’re in a new wave of technology and this one is, I think, the biggest in a while.”

All of this made Altman’s exit difficult to imagine and have in the tech community. comparing the move to Apples dismissal of Steve Jobs in 1985. In a statement posted on its website, OpenAI said: “The Board of Directors no longer has confidence in his ability to continue to lead OpenAI.” The company named Mira Murati, who was chief technology officer, as interim CEO.

If you had followed Altman over the past two weeks, you would have seen an industry leader at the center of the action. Here is an abbreviated timeline of the days leading up to Altman’s departure:

November 6:

November 8:

November 14:

Altmann posted on, formerly Twitter, that there would be a pause in signing up for ChatGPT Plus. He said there was a surge in requests after the DevDay announcements and usage “has exceeded our capacity and we want to make sure everyone has a great experience.”

November 16:

Altman appeared at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco, speaking on AI.

On Friday at 3:28 p.m. ET, OpenAI published a blog post announcing Altman’s firing. At the same time, the company said Greg Brockman, president of OpenAI, was being removed as chairman of the board but would remain as executive.

Here’s what happened next:

4:46 p.m. ET:

Altman made his first public statement about his departure, writing on

7:09 p.m. ET:

11:42 p.m. ET:

November 18:

OpenAI says Sam Altman steps down as CEO after board loses confidence

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