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Former OpenAI board member explains why they fired Sam Altman

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the sudden ousting of OpenAI co-founder and CEO Sam Altman by the company's board, and the events that led to his eventual return as CEO.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Reasons for Altman's Ousting

1. What were the key reasons the OpenAI board stopped trusting Altman?

  • Altman failed to inform the board that he owned the OpenAI Startup Fund
  • Altman provided inaccurate information about the company's safety processes on multiple occasions
  • Altman targeted board member Helen Toner after she published a research paper that angered him, including lying to other board members to try and push her off the board
  • Two executives spoke to the board about a toxic atmosphere at OpenAI, accusing Altman of "psychological abuse" and providing evidence of him "lying and being manipulative"

2. How did the board's lack of oversight over the company contribute to the issues?

  • The board was not informed in advance about the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, learning about it on Twitter instead.

[02] Altman's Reinstatement as CEO

1. What were the key reasons the pressure to restore Altman as CEO was so strong?

  • Employees were presented with only two options - restore Altman or see the company destroyed, and they did not want the company to fall apart
  • Many people were scared of going against Altman after watching him retaliate against others
  • Altman had a history of problematic behavior, including being fired from previous jobs for "deceptive and chaotic behavior"

2. How did the current OpenAI board respond to Toner's comments?

  • The current board chair, Bret Taylor, expressed disappointment that Toner continues to revisit these issues. He stated that an independent review concluded the prior board's decision was not based on concerns about product safety, development pace, finances, or statements to stakeholders. He also noted that over 95% of employees, including senior leadership, asked for Altman's reinstatement as CEO.
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