😺 Sam Altman fired

PLUS: Everything you need to know about the OpenAI thriller

Welcome, humans.

Our deepest condolences to those with loved ones glued to Tech Twitter, they're not snubbing you–they've just found their version of The Bachelor. 

**A lot happened this weekend. We’re giving you the summary and options for you to read longer updates from the best coverage we could find. We could only update you through 1:30am ET, so there might be updates since then…

Here’s what you need to know about AI today:

  • Why and how Sam Altman got fired from OpenAI.

  • Who actually controls OpenAI (the board? investors? employees?).

  • Many OpenAI employees threatened to quit if Sam didn’t return as CEO.

  • Emmett Shear will take over as interim CEO of OpenAI.

WTF is going on with Sam Altman and OpenAI?!

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, is perhaps the most beloved person in technology. The Arnold Schwarzenegger of nerds, if you will.

So, imagine everyone’s shock when this headline emerged on Friday afternoon:


The reason: According to OpenAI’s blog, Sam “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board”.

At the same time, Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s cofounder/board chair was told to step down and clapped back with, “i quit”.

*wait a second. how the heck was Sam Altman fired from the company he started?!*

4 of 6 OpenAI board members, led by Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, staged a coup to remove Sam, saying that it was the “only path” to stay true to OpenAI's mission of building safe AGI.

(Highly speculative rumor: it could’ve been a groundbreaking AI discovery at OpenAI recently that spooked Ilya, researchers, and now Elon.)

Either way, the coup backfired…BADLY.

Three other top researchers quit in protest and Twitter went up in flames with support for Sam/Greg from people like Vinod Khosla and Brian Chesky.

We attended multiple events Friday night in SF where crowds of attendees were “mourning the loss.”

While all of this was happening in real-time, we learned that Sam was already planning his next AI venture, potentially raising billions that involved developing a new AI chip project.

That’s when we saw the second-most shocking headline yet:


(more details to follow…)


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UPDATE: Sam Altman will not return as CEO.

last time indeed

This weekend gave us a timely crash course on board governance, but there’s one group that might have the most leverage of all: investors.

The WSJ reported that Microsoft—who owns 49% of OpenAI—put pressure on OpenAI’s board to reinstate Sam, though Sam said he would only return if there was a complete overhaul of the board.

Also important: OpenAI employees.

The Verge heard rumors of mass resignations on Sunday afternoon contingent on Sam's return to the CEO position.

The deadline passed with no update, until the final word: though interim CEO Mira Murati advocated to rehire Sam and Greg, the board decided to hire former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear instead.

This means that Sam Altman is not returning as CEO of OpenAI, a decision that has reportedly left Microsoft “NOT pleased”.

What’s next?

Our predictions: 1) Sam/Greg start a new company, 2) many OpenAI employees follow them 3) Microsoft and other investors scramble to line up behind them.

Stay tuned…

Around the Horn.

  • All the employees who ❤️️-ed Sam’s tweet were a hint that they would leave and follow Sam/Greg to their new company.

  • How OpenAI’s bizarre structure gave 4 people the power to fire Sam Altman.

  • OpenAI has received only “a fraction” of its $10B Microsoft investment.

  • Sam Altman was also raising a new VC fund for hard tech when he was fired.

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A Cat's Commentary.

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