A timeline of Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI — and the fallout

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In a dramatic turn of events late Friday, ex-Y Combinator president Sam Altman was fired as CEO of AI startup OpenAI, the company behind viral AI hits like ChatGPT, GPT-4 and DALL-E 3, by OpenAI’s board of directors. Then, the company’s longtime president and co-founder, Greg Brockman, resigned — as did three senior OpenAI researchers. And the fallout continues.
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It’s a fast-moving situation that we’re still trying to get to the bottom of. No doubt more will become clear as time goes on. To make it easier to follow all that’s happened in the meantime, though, we’ve put together a timeline; we’ll do our best to keep it current.
Timeline of Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI
November 16
Ilya Sutskever schedules call with Altman
According to a post on X (formerly Twitter) from Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist at OpenAI and a co-founder, texted Altman on Thursday evening about scheduling a Friday noon call.
Sam and I are shocked and saddened by what the board did today. Let us first say thank you to all the incredible people who we have worked with at OpenAI, our customers, our investors, and all of those who have been reaching out. We too are still trying to figure out exactly… — Greg Brockman (@gdb) November 18, 2023
Murati told of Altman’s firing
Brockman alleges that Mira Murati, OpenAI’s CTO and now interim CEO, was informed on Thursday night that Altman would be fired.

November 17
Brockman demoted
Brockman says he got a text from Sutskever shortly after noon on Friday asking for a quick call. After sending a Google Meet link, Brockman was told that he was being removed from the board as chairman “but was vital to the company and would retain his role” as president, and that Altman had been fired.
Altman’s firing publicly announced
OpenAI published a post on its blog announcing the executive shake-up. The company’s management team was aware shortly after.
i loved my time at openai. 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. 🫡 — Sam Altman (@sama) November 17, 2023
All-hands meeting
OpenAI held an all-hands meeting Friday afternoon during which Sutskever defended Altman’s ouster. He dismissed suggestions that pushing Altman out amounted to a “hostile takeover,” and claimed that it was necessary to protect OpenAI’s mission of “making AI beneficial to humanity.”
Microsoft releases a statement
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, a major investor in — and partner with — OpenAI, published a statement about Altman’s firing:
“As you saw at Microsoft Ignite this week, we’re continuing to rapidly innovate for this era of AI, with over 100 announcements across the full tech stack from AI systems, models and tools in Azure, to Copilot. Most importantly, we’re committed to delivering all of this to our customers while building for the future. We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world.”
Brockman quits
Brockman announced his resignation from OpenAI, citing “today’s news.” After sending a memo internally, he published the text on X.
After learning today’s news, this is the message I sent to the OpenAI team: https://t.co/NMnG16yFmm pic.twitter.com/8x39P0ejOM — Greg Brockman (@gdb) November 18, 2023
Senior OpenAI researchers resign
Three senior OpenAI researchers resign after Brockman, including the director of research Jakub Pachocki and head of preparedness Aleksander Madry.

November 18
“Not … in response to malfeasance”
In an internal memo obtained by Axios sent Saturday morning, OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap said yesterday’s announcement “took [the management team] by surprise” and that management had had “multiple conversations with the board to try to better understand the reasons and process behind their decision.” Discussions were ongoing as of Saturday morning, per the memo.
“We can say definitively that the board’s decision was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices,” Lightcap added. “This was a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board … We still share your concerns about how the process has been handled, are working to resolve the situation, and will provide updates as we’re able.”
OpenAI’s funding in jeopardy
The planned sale of OpenAI employee shares that would value the startup at about $86 billion could be in jeopardy. The Information, speaking to three sources formerly with the company, reports that they no longer expect the sale — led by Thrive Capital — to happen, or, if it does, to come with a lesser valuation because of the recent turn of events.
Altman planning new venture
Altman has been telling investors that he’s planning to launch a new venture, according to The Information. Brockman is expected to join the effort — whatever form it takes.

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