The fear and tension that led to Sam Altman’s ouster at OpenAI

“I’m sure you’re all feeling confusion, sadness, and maybe a little fear,” Brad Lightcap, OpenAI’s chief operating officer, said in a memo to OpenAI employees. “We are fully focused on dealing with this issue, seeking a solution and clarity, and getting back to work. »

On Friday, Mr. Altman was invited to join a video board meeting at noon in San Francisco. There, Mr. Sutskever, 37, read a script that looked very similar to the blog post the company published minutes later, according to a person familiar with the matter. The message stated that Mr. Altman “was not always candid in his communications with the Board of Directors, which hindered his ability to carry out his responsibilities.”

But in the hours that followed, OpenAI employees and others focused not only on what Mr. Altman might have done, but also on how the San Francisco startup is structured and what Extreme views on the dangers of AI have been incorporated into the company’s work since it was established in 2015.

Mr. Sutskever and Mr. Altman could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

In recent weeks, Jakub Pachocki, who helped oversee GPT-4, the technology at the heart of ChatGPT, was promoted to director of research at the company. After previously serving in a lower position than Mr. Sutskever, he was elevated to a position alongside Mr. Sutskever, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Pachocki left the company Friday evening, the sources said, shortly after Mr. Brockman. Earlier today, OpenAI said Mr Brockman had been removed as chairman of the board and would report to new interim CEO Mira Murati. Other allies of Mr. Altman, including two senior researchers, Szymon Sidor and Aleksander Madry, also left the company.