A timeline of Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI – and the aftermath

In a dramatic turnaround late Friday, former Y Combinator president Sam Altman was fired by OpenAI’s board as CEO of AI startup OpenAI, the company behind viral AI hits like ChatGPT, GPT-4 and DALL-E 3. Then the company’s longtime president and co-founder, Greg Brockman, resigned – as did three senior OpenAI researchers. And the consequences continue.

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It’s a rapidly changing situation that we’re still trying to get to the bottom of. No doubt more will become clear as time goes on. However, to make it easier to keep track of everything that’s happened in the meantime, we’ve put together a timeline; We will do our best to keep it up to date.

Timeline of Sam Altman’s firing from OpenAI

November 16th

Ilya Sutskever plans a call with Altman

A post by Brockman

Murati recounted Altman’s firing

Brockman claims that Mira Murati, CTO of OpenAI and now interim CEO, was informed on Thursday evening that Altman would be fired.

November 17th

Brockman demoted

Brockman says he received a text message from Sutskever shortly after noon on Friday requesting a quick call. After sending a Google Meet link, Brockman was told that he was being removed from the board as chairman, “but was critical to the company and would retain his role as president,” and that Altman had been fired.

Altman’s firing was publicly announced

OpenAI published a post on its blog announcing the executive restructuring. The company’s management team soon became aware of this.

All-hands meeting

OpenAI held an all-hands meeting Friday afternoon, where Sutskever defended Altman’s ouster. He dismissed suggestions that ousting Altman amounted to a “hostile takeover,” claiming it was necessary to protect OpenAI’s mission of “making AI beneficial to humanity.”

Microsoft issues a statement

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, a major investor and partner of OpenAI, released a statement on Altman’s firing:

“As you saw at Microsoft Ignite this week, we continue to rapidly innovate for this age of AI, with over 100 announcements across the technology space from AI systems, models and tools in Azure to Copilot. Most importantly, we are committed to providing our customers with all of this while building for the future. We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain loyal to our partnership and Mira and the team. Together we will continue to bring the significant benefits of this technology to the world.”

Brockman gives up

Brockman announced his resignation from OpenAI, citing “today’s news.” After sending an internal memo, he published the text on X.

Lead OpenAI researchers resign

After Brockman, three senior OpenAI researchers are stepping down, including research director Jakub Pachocki and head of readiness Aleksander Madry.

November 18

“Not… in response to misconduct.”

In an internal memo obtained by Axios on Saturday morning, OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap said yesterday’s announcement was “a long time coming.” [the management team] surprising” and that management “had several discussions with the board to try to better understand the reasons and process behind their decision.” According to the memo, the discussions took place on Saturday morning.

“We can definitively say that the board’s decision was not made in response to any misconduct or anything related to our financial, business, security or security/privacy practices,” Lightcap added. “There has been a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board here… We still share your concerns about how the process was handled, are working to resolve the situation and will provide updates where possible.”

OpenAI’s funding is in jeopardy

The planned sale of OpenAI employee shares, which would give the startup a value of around $86 billion, could be in jeopardy. The Information, which spoke to three previous sources at the company, reports that due to the recent turn of events, they no longer expect the sale – led by Thrive Capital – to go through or, if it does, to be accompanied by a lower valuation.

Altman plans new venture

According to The Information, Altman has told investors that he plans to start a new company. Brockman is expected to join the effort, in whatever form it takes. (Possibly an AI chip startup.)

Investors are pushing for Altman’s return

Investors, angry at the turn of events, are reportedly putting pressure on OpenAI’s board to reinstate Altman, even going so far as to recruit Microsoft. Nadella is supposed to be likeable.

The board agrees to change course – in principle

The Verge reports that the board has agreed in principle to the resignation and return of Altman and Brockman. However, it was a mystery because yesterday it missed a deadline by which many OpenAI employees were supposed to leave the company. Altman is said to be ambivalent about coming back and demanding “significant” changes in governance.

November 19th

Altman meets at OpenAI headquarters

According to The Information, Altman is expected to meet at OpenAI’s headquarters in San Francisco as OpenAI executives push for his reinstatement as CEO. Brockman has been invited to join – but it is unclear whether he will accept the invitation.

The board negotiations stalled

Bloomberg reports that Lightcap and Murati, among others, are pushing the board to reinstate Altman. Unsurprisingly, however, directors are resisting. As of midday Sunday, the board, concerned about who might replace him, had not resigned and was considering candidates. One possible new addition could be Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor.

Altman out, Shear in

According to a report from The Information, citing an internal memo from Sutskever, Altman will not return as CEO. As the search for a new permanent CEO continues, OpenAI has named Emmett Shear, the co-founder of video streaming site Twitch, as interim CEO – replacing Murati.

20th November

Altman moves to Microsoft

Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and colleagues announce they will join Microsoft to lead a new AI research team. Nadella leaves the door open for other OpenAI employees, saying they will receive the resources they need if they decide to join.

Sutskever’s mea culpa

Sutskever published on

Employees threaten to resign

Nearly 500 of OpenAI’s roughly 770 employees — including, notably, Sutskever — are releasing a letter saying they may quit if the startup’s board doesn’t resign and reappoint the ousted Altman.