This weekend, the company OpenAI, known for ChatGPT and Dall-E, experienced a real soap opera. We tell you everything.
There are moments in tech that seem worthy of a film, a novel or a TV series. We could think of the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft, which lasted almost two years with many twists and turns. The OpenAI company did even better with a mess of twists and turns in the space of a single weekend.
Friday November 17: the dismissal of Sam Altman
Friday evening, November 17, the board of directors of OpenAI, the firm behind ChatGPT, announced the dismissal of Sam Altman, co-founder of the company. Officially, the company believes that Sam Altman was dishonest in his communication with the board of directors.
Engineer Mira Murati, in charge of OpenAI technologies (CTO), took over management of the company at that time.
Microsoft has a very important role in the life of OpenAI. The tech giant invested heavily in its technology partner and it was OpenAI which provided the GPT model used by Microsoft Copilot and the firm’s other services. It is no coincidence that the announcement of Sam Altman’s dismissal resulted in a drop in Microsoft’s share price.
The boss of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, reacted publicly on the evening of Friday November 17 by publishing a message on Twitter (X). It recalls Microsoft’s commitment to AI and to OpenAI.
Saturday November 18: OpenAI is considering bringing back Sam Altman
We’re only a few hours ahead. On Saturday, November 18, the press reported that the board of directors of OpenAI is in negotiations with Sam Altman to appoint him CEO of the company. Yes, the same council that fired him from this position the day before is now considering bringing him back.
This negotiation is being pushed by investors and company executives. Bloomberg mentions in particular Mira Murati, Jason Kwon and Brad Lightcap, respectively interim CEO, head of strategy and head of operations. Sam Altman was reportedly mixed about the idea, calling for a significant change in the company’s governance to avoid more episodes like this in the future. A resignation from the board of directors was even considered.
Some already saw a destiny for Sam Altman similar to that of Steve Jobs. The charismatic co-founder of Apple left the firm in 1985 before returning in 1997 to save it from bankruptcy.
Sunday November 19: OpenAI names Twitch co-founder
New turnaround, the board of directors announces that Emmett Shear becomes the new boss, still interim, of OpenAI. This is the co-founder of Twitch, who recently spoke out about the dangers of AI. We are only 48 hours after the announcement of Sam Altman’s dismissal.
He is immediately very critical of the way Sam Altman was fired, and calls for an external investigation to understand the process and the events that led to it.
Microsoft recruits Sam Altman
At the same time as Emmett Shear was named CEO of OpenAI, Satya Nadella announced that he had successfully recruited Sam Altman at Microsoft. In the United States, it is Monday morning at 3 a.m. when Satya Nadella makes this announcement.
That’s not all, Greg Brockman and several other OpenAI employees are following suit to join a subsidiary dedicated to AI created by Microsoft. This subsidiary will be independent within Microsoft, in the same way as GitHub, Mojang Studios or LinkedIn.
Monday November 20: a revolt at OpenAI
In the wake of Sam Altman’s appointment at Microsoft, many employees took to Twitter to post the message: “ OpenAI is nothing without its employees “. Sam Altman interacts with each of these messages. This suggests that these employees could leave OpenAI to join Microsoft.
More than thirty OpenAI employees posted this message on Twitter, including the company’s most senior executives. We also find Mira Murati there, who was the boss of the company for a few hours.