A timeline of Sam Altman’s outing from OpenAI


On Nov. 17 the artificial intelligence startup OpenAI made the shock announcement that it fired CEO Sam Altman — and reaffirmed that decision on Nov. 19 with the hiring of Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as the new CEO.

In days between, the tech world reeled, Altman’s colleagues rallied to his side, then-OpenAI president and co-founder Greg Brockman also quit and OpenAI’s board of directors held talks to possibly reinstate Altman while facing enormous public backlash from shareholders and employees.

Here’s what’s happened so far.

Thursday, Nov. 16

Ilya Sustekever schedules call with Altman

According to an X (formerly Twitter) post from Brockman, OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever sent Altman a message on Thursday evening to schedule a meeting for Friday afternoon.

Additionally, he claimed that OpenAI CTO Mira Murati was made aware that Altman would be fired that evening.

Friday, Nov. 17

Brockman notified Altman was fired

Just after midday on Nov. 17, Brockman said Sutskever texted him asking to jump on a call. After joining the call a few minutes later he was informed he was being removed from OpenAI’s board of directors but would maintain his role as president and that Altman had been fired.

OpenAI publicly says Altman is out

OpenAI published a blog post stating Altman had been fired due to not being “consistently candid in his communications with the board” and added Murati would be taking over as interim CEO.

Microsoft issues statement on OpenAI

Microsoft, the largest investor and partner in OpenAI issued a statement concerning Altman’s ousting with CEO Satya Nadella trying to calm the market’s nerves and offer reassurance that Altman’s axing would have no major impact on the partnership moving forward.

“We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap, and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team.”

Brockman resigns

Following the public announcement of Altman’s departure, Brockman announced his own resignation.

Resignations pile up

In the wake of Brockman’s resignation, a number of senior OpenAI executives followed suit, with the company’s head of preparedness Aleksander Madfry, and director of research Jakub Pachoki announcing their respective resignations.

Saturday, Nov. 18

Shock firing was surprise to management

OpenAI chief operating officer Brad Lightcap said the announcement to the entire management by surprise, per an internal memo seen by Axios on Nov. 18.

“We can say definitively that the board’s decision was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices. This was a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board.”

Altman eyes new venture

The Information reported on Nov. 18 that Altman had already begun discussing a new AI-related venture with investors. Brockman is expected to join Altman in whatever endeavor he moves forward with.

Microsoft “furious” at Altman’s outing, pushes board to bring him back

Bloomberg reported on Nov. 18 that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was “furious” with the decision and began pushing the board to consider reinstating Altman as CEO.

Board agrees to reconsider Altman’s position

The Verge reported on Nov. 18 that OpenAI’s board had “in principle” agreed to resign and bring back both Altman as CEO and Brockman and president.

Related: Meta dissolves responsible AI division amid restructuring

Multiple sources claimed Sutskever’s “integral role” in Altman’s firing suggested there was a hotbed of tension between the nonprofit and for-profit sides of the company.

Sunday, Nov. 19

Altman at OpenAI ahead of decision deadline

Altman posted a picture to X on Nov. 19 at OpenAI’s headquarters with a guest badge as a deadline for a decision regarding his reinstatement as CEO was set for 5 pm PST.

Bringing back Altman as CEO may require the board to issue an apology as well as a statement that frees him of wrongdoing, sources told Bloomberg.

Microsoft eyes board seat as insiders push for Altman’s return

The Information reported on Nov. 19 that Microsoft is eyeing either a board seat or board observer role without voting power if Altman returns. Bloomberg reported earlier that OpenAI’s top brass is pushing for Altman to return including interim CEO Mira Murati, chief strategy officer Jason Kwon, and chief operating officer Brad Lightcap.

Former Twitch head Emmet Shear hired as new OpenAI CEO

The Information reported late Nov. 19 U.S. time that the board of directors was not willing to make a compromise and instead selected Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as the new CEO amid interim CEO Murati planning to reinstate both Altman and Brockman at their respective roles in the company.

Magazine: AI Eye — Real uses for AI in crypto, Google’s GPT-4 rival, AI edge for bad employees

Update (Nov. 20, 5:40 am UTC): This article has been updated to add that Emmett Shear is the new CEO of OpenAI.

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