Timeline of the OpenAI Turmoil


OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a nonprofit AI research company led by CEO Sam Altman, with a mission to develop useful AI. In 2019, it created a for-profit entity to accept Microsoft’s $1 billion investment.

November 2022: OpenAI launches popular AI chatbot ChatGPT. In mid-November, rising demand leads to limited registrations.

November 17, 2023: OpenAI’s board abruptly fires Altman, citing lack of transparency. Chief scientist Ilya Sutskever led the decision. President Greg Brockman resigns in protest. CTO Mira Murati appointed interim CEO. Microsoft expresses its surprise.

November 18: COO Brad Lightcap says Altman’s firing “lasted [leadership] by surprise” in a memo, blaming communication problems on the board.

November 19: Hundreds of employees threaten mass layoffs unless Altman is reinstated. The talks broke down due to differences of opinion within the board. Emmett Shear takes over as interim CEO.

Microsoft is joining the fray

November 20th: Microsoft announces a new AI division led by Altman and Brockman, signaling its intention to exploit OpenAI’s turmoil.

November 21st: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says Microsoft remains “committed” to OpenAI despite launching a competing AI team with ousted OpenAI leaders.

Also read: Open AI Leadership: Revealing the New Faces at OpenAI

Persistent precipitation

  • OpenAI’s upcoming $86 billion stock sale is in jeopardy
  • Investors criticize the way OpenAI’s board is handling the situation

The board’s firing of Altman led to a leadership vacuum and employee revolts. As instability increases and Microsoft capitalizes, industry experts warn that events could slow AI progress as rivals take advantage.

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