Friday, May 24

The fear and tension that led to Sam Altman’s ouster from OpenAI

“I’m sure you all feel confusion, sadness, and perhaps a little fear,” Brad Lightcap, OpenAI’s chief operating officer, said in a note to OpenAI employees. “We are completely focused on managing this situation, pushing for resolution and clarity, and getting back to work.”

On Friday, Mr. Altman was asked to participate in a board meeting via video at noon in San Francisco. There, Mr. Sutskever, 37, read a text that closely resembled the blog post the company published minutes later, according to a person familiar with the matter. The post stated that Mr. Altman “has not consistently been candid in his communications with the board, hindering his ability to carry out his responsibilities.”

But in the hours that followed, OpenAI employees and others focused not just on what Altman may have done, but on the way the San Francisco start-up is structured and the extreme views on the dangers of artificial intelligence embedded in the company’s work ever since. was created in 2015.

Mr. Sutskever and Mr. Altman could not be reached for comment Saturday.

In recent weeks, Jakub Pachocki, who helped oversee GPT-4, the technology behind ChatGPT, was promoted to director of research at the company. According to two people familiar with the matter, after previously holding a position below Mr. Sutskever, he was elevated to a position next to Mr. Sutskever.

Mr. Pachocki left the company Friday night, the people said, soon after Mr. Brockman. Earlier in the day, OpenAI said Brockman had been removed as chairman of the board and would report to the new interim CEO, Mira Murati. Other Altman allies – including two senior researchers, Szymon Sidor and Aleksander Madry – also left the company.