On Nov. 16, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman told the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco that a few weeks earlier, he had been present as 'the frontier of discovery was pushed forward'. The following day, he was fired.

On Nov. 19, the OpenAI board reaffirmed its decision by hiring Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as its new CEO, only on Nov. 22 to reverse its decision and bring Altman back. 

In the 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 Sutskever 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 chief technology officer 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 him 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,” adding 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 Pachocki, announcing their respective resignations.

Saturday, Nov. 18

Shock firing was surprise to management

OpenAI chief operating officer Brad Lightcap said that the announcement took the entire management team 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

Media company 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’s CEO, 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 agreed in principle” to resign and bring back both Altman as CEO and Brockman as president.

Multiple sources claimed Sutskever’s “integral role” in Altman’s firing, suggesting 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 the 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.

Related: Meta dissolves responsible AI division amid restructuring

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 a 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 Murati, chief strategy officer Jason Kwon, and COO Lightcap.

Former Twitch head Emmett Shear hired as new OpenAI CEO

The Information reported late on Nov. 19 in the United States that the board of directors was unwilling to make a compromise and instead selected Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as the new CEO, while interim CEO Murati was planning to reinstate both Altman and Brockman in their respective roles at the company.

Monday, Nov. 20

Satya Nadella onboards Sam Altman into Microsoft’s AI research team

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella decided to hire the former OpenAI team members, CEO Sam Altman and president Greg Brockman to lead a new advanced AI research team. 

Shortly after the announcement from Nadella, Altman retweeted the post saying, “the mission continues”  inferring his commitment to the progress of AI technology.

Wednesday, Nov. 22

OpenAI reaches an agreement to rehire Sam Altman as CEO

Following the backlash from more than 500 employees over Sam Altman's ousting, on Nov. 22, OpenAI announced its willingness to rehire Altman as the company CEO. 

In response to the above announcement, Altman highlighted his "love" for OpenAI and his intention to create a strong partnership with Microsoft. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, also supported Altman's decision to reconsider Microsoft's job offer and get back into building OpenAI's mission.

Thursday, Nov. 23

Fired after 'AI breakthrough'?

Reuters publishes an article stating that, shortly before the decision was taken to release Altman, the OpenAI board had been informed by in-house staff researchers that an AI breakthrough had been made which, according to them, 'could threaten humanity'. 

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