Sam Altman is accused "Psychologically abusive" Behavior – Gizmodo

Since Sam Altman was fired by the OpenAI board two weeks ago, questions have arisen about what sparked the drama. The fact is: We still don’t really know what happened and why Altman was forced out. Altman himself has said he won’t talk about it. Microsoft obviously isn’t talking. And even former board members who had a split with Altman and subsequently resigned refused to say anything – at least on the record. In short: one of the most dramatic explosions in Silicon Valley is still a mystery. There are a few lawyers hired by OpenAI to investigate the incident, so perhaps we’ll hear the details from them one day.

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Until then, all we really have are theories. Well, that and lots of allegations of asshole behavior on Altman’s part. In fact, he may be Time magazine’s “CEO of the Year,” but recent reports suggest he was prone to deceitful and manipulative behavior and at least once tried to get a colleague fired. That’s not exactly unusual CEO behavior, but still.

The most recent of these reports is a Washington Post article alleging that complaints about Altman’s alleged “mentally abusive” and “toxic” behavior were made to the OpenAI board in the lead-up to his firing. Altman was accused of pitting employees against each other and causing “chaos” in the startup. According to the story, several OpenAI board members were already discussing what to do about Altman’s troubling behavior when they received the complaints. These same board members also felt that Altman had lied to them to get another board member, Helen Toner, fired.

The Post relied on “two people with knowledge of the situation” to support these claims. The same sources apparently told the Post that the complaints against Altman “were a significant factor in the board’s sudden decision to fire him” and that his firing was “motivated, at least in part, by the feeling that his behavior was beyond the board’s ability to do so.” would make him fired.” “supervise the CEO,” the newspaper reports.

Another recent report provided details of the conflict with Toner, who clashed with Altman over the direction the organization should take. According to Wall Street Journal reports, Toner, who resigned from the board after the events of Thanksgiving weekend, had a falling out with Altman in the weeks before Altman’s firing. An academic by training, Toner co-authored an article on AI security that was moderately critical of OpenAI’s decision to release ChatGPT. In response, Altman allegedly accused her of trying to harm OpenAI and then met with various board members to encourage them to fire her.

Toner told the Journal that she would not comment on what directly led to Altman’s firing, only saying that the decision to let Altman go seemed at the time a good way to further the original mission of the nonprofit wing of Appreciate OpenAI. “Our goal in firing Sam was to strengthen OpenAI and better enable it to fulfill its mission,” she told the newspaper.

Until recently, a prevailing theory about Altman’s downfall was that OpenAI’s CEO and board were arguing over the pace at which the company’s AI technology was being commercialized. This theory suggests that the board – which advocates for responsible and ethical AI development – ​​felt that Altman was increasingly out of sync with its mission. While this theory seems to have some merit, a growing body of evidence also seems to indicate that Altman’s personality was also a major problem.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Altman also apparently enjoyed great employee loyalty. When he was fired, much of the company revolted and threatened to leave and join Microsoft if he was not reinstated. Still, other motivations than just liking Sam may have played a role. The Washington Post report notes that Altman’s removal also “jeopardized an investment deal.” This would allow “long-time employees” to “sell their shares back to OpenAI and cash out equity without having to wait for the company to go public.”

OpenAI and Altman have quickly recovered from the drama of a few weeks ago. Altman was reinstated as CEO last week and has wasted no time courting the press to shape the narrative surrounding his return. OpenAI, meanwhile, is clearly trying to return to business as usual. This week, Microsoft announced the integration of the startup’s latest tools into its virtual assistant Copilot, a sign that the business partnership between the two companies is well underway. However, Altman’s image as a golden boy may be permanently tarnished. It’s going to take some time for the dust to settle on this whole mess, and until then, there’s a lot we just don’t know.


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