Sam Altman, the boss of artificial intelligence firm OpenAI, has been pushed out after losing the board’s confidence.
The board of the company behind artificial intelligence-powered ChatGPT claimed Mr Altman, 38, had not been “consistently candid with his communications”.
OpenAI’s Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati will serve as interim CEO, the company said, adding that it will conduct a formal search for a permanent chief executive.
ChatGPT can respond to prompts from users with human-like text, images and videos, and some versions are now able to search the internet to provide answers to queries based on information in real-time.
OpenAI said in a blog: “Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”
Mr Altman, who helped launch the firm as a non-profit company in 2015, said on social media he had “loved my time at OpenAI”.
He said: “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 late.”
OpenAI president and co-founder Greg Brockman, who was removed from the board as chairman as part of the management shuffle, said: “Based on today’s news, I quit.”
The departures blindsided many employees, who discovered the abrupt management change from an internal message and the company’s public facing blog.
It came as a surprise to Mr Altman and Mr Brockman as well. They learned of the board’s decision within minutes of the announcement, Mr Brockman said.
“We too are still trying to figure out exactly what happened,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter, adding, “We will be fine. Greater things coming soon.”
OpenAI’s key business partner, Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars into the startup and helped provide the computing power to run its AI systems, said that the transition won’t affect its relationship.
At an emergency meeting on Friday afternoon after the announcement, Mr Murati sought to calm employees and said OpenAI’s partnership with Microsoft is stable and its backer’s executives, including CEO Satya Nadella, continue to express confidence in the startup, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The now four-person board consists of three independent directors holding no equity in OpenAI and its Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever.
ChatGPT’s explosion into public consciousness thrust Mr Altman into the spotlight as a face of generative AI — technology that can produce novel imagery, passages of text and other media.
On a world tour this year, he was mobbed by a crowd of adoring fans at an event in London.
Mr Altman has predicted AI will prove to be “the greatest leap forward of any of the big technological revolutions we’ve had so far”.
But he was among the signatories earlier this year to a letter warning that artificial intelligence could lead to the extinction of humanity.
The single-sentence statement, whose signatories also included two so-called “godfathers” of AI technology as well as dozens of academics and developers, read: “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.”