These Are The People That Fired OpenAI CEO Sam Altman

These Are The People That Fired OpenAI CEO Sam Altman
February 15, 2024

In a shocking move, the board of directors for the nonprofit organization overseeing artificial intelligence company OpenAI decided to fire CEO Sam Altman and remove president Greg Brockman from the board. Brockman resigned just hours later following this decision.

The firing of Altman and removal of Brockman was especially surprising given OpenAI's unique corporate structure. As per OpenAI's own description, the directors on its board hold no equity in OpenAI or receive any other type of compensation. Their primary fiduciary duty is not to maintain shareholder value or profits, but rather to stay true to OpenAI's mission of creating safe artificial general intelligence (AGI) that benefits humanity. OpenAI has stated that profits are secondary to fulfilling this altruistic mission.

OpenAI only began publicly listing the names of its board members on its website starting in July 2022, after directors Reid Hoffman, Shivon Zilis, and Will Hurd departed earlier that same year. According to archived versions of the site, the board members who made the decision to oust Altman and Brockman are:

  • Adam D'Angelo, CEO of question-and-answer website Quora, who joined OpenAI's board in April 2018. At the time, D'Angelo expressed his belief that OpenAI's work toward beneficial AGI was important yet underappreciated. In a January 2023 interview with Forbes, D'Angelo argued one of OpenAI's strengths was its capped profit structure and nonprofit oversight, saying this makes it fundamentally different from for-profit tech giants it could have become.
  • Tasha McCauley, an adjunct senior management scientist at think tank RAND Corporation, a role she began in 2023. McCauley previously co-founded startups Fellow Robots and GeoSim Systems, and served as CEO of the latter until 2022. She was also on the advisory board of the Centre for Effective Altruism. In 2017 she signed the Asilomar AI Principles on ethical AI development alongside Altman, OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever, and former board member Elon Musk.
  • Ilya Sutskever, the sole remaining OpenAI co-founder still on its board. Sutskever was OpenAI's founding research director and later chief scientist. In July 2022, OpenAI announced Sutskever would lead one-fifth of its compute power to work on "superalignment" - developing solutions for overseeing advanced AI.
  • Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology, who joined OpenAI's board in September 2021 to address AI safety considerations. More recently, Toner has published analyses on China's AI capabilities that oppose Altman's views on AI regulation's impact on a US-China AI race.

Past OpenAI board members not involved in the decision to remove Altman and Brockman:

  • Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder, was an early OpenAI investor but resigned from its board in March 2022 to avoid potential conflicts of interest with his venture capital firm Greylock's AI startup investments. Hoffman stated he remained an ally to OpenAI.
  • Will Hurd, a former Texas congressman who joined in May 2021 for public policy expertise, resigned in July 2022 after announcing a 2024 presidential campaign.
  • Holden Karnofsky, director at Open Philanthropy, joined the board in 2017 after Open Philanthropy pledged $30 million in grants to OpenAI. He left in 2021 when his wife Daniela Amodei departed OpenAI to avoid conflicts.
  • Elon Musk, OpenAI co-founder, resigned in 2018 over conflicts with Tesla, after minimal funding despite a $1 billion pledge. Musk has since criticized OpenAI's nonprofit structure.
  • Shivon Zilis reportedly left OpenAI's board following Musk's critical comments. She now works at his company Neuralink.

OpenAI's idealistic nonprofit board made the shocking leadership decision to remove CEO Altman and president Brockman, without typical profit motivations. Their aim is for OpenAI to fulfill its altruistic mission of developing safe AI, rather than maximize financial returns.

MORE FROM JUST THINK AI

Adobe Pioneers AI Audio Magic with Project Music GenAI Control

March 4, 2024
Adobe Pioneers AI Audio Magic with Project Music GenAI Control
MORE FROM JUST THINK AI

Figure Raises $675M at $2.6B Valuation and Signs Collaboration Agreement with OpenAI

March 4, 2024
Figure Raises $675M at $2.6B Valuation and Signs Collaboration Agreement with OpenAI
MORE FROM JUST THINK AI

Elon Musk Files Lawsuit Against OpenAI Alleging Mission Deviation

March 1, 2024
 Elon Musk Files Lawsuit Against OpenAI Alleging Mission Deviation
Join our newsletter
We will keep you up to date on all the new AI news. No spam we promise
We care about your data in our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.