The Facts

  • Sam Altman has been fired as CEO of Microsoft-backed OpenAI, the artificial intelligence startup announced on Friday, claiming that a lack of candidness in the co-founder's communications with the company's board had been affecting its ability to fulfill its responsibilities.

  • News website Semafor — citing an anonymous source — reported that Altman has been raising money for a new venture capital fund focused on hard tech and was seen in good spirits recently as he attended an industry gathering on Wednesday evening, indicating that he was unaware he would be let go.

The Spin

Narrative A

The latest developments stem from a power struggle over the board in connection with a cultural clash at OpenAI. While the now-ousted Altman, as well as Brockman, focused on commercialization efforts, the rest of the board members have sought to uphold the company's non-profit mission to create safe generative artificial intelligence for the benefit of humankind.

Narrative B

It's too early to assert what exactly prompted Altman to be fired — and the full truth may never be unveiled at all. Yet, it's unlikely that such an abrupt shift results from well-known differences between the board and him regarding OpenAI's mission. Given the board's language in announcing his departure, Altman may have lied to the board, probably circumventing the board in a major, controversial move.

Narrative C

This abrupt decision will send reverberations within OpenAI and the tech landscape in general. Once a leading force in the AI race, the company will now be left in disarray as it's likely to face a mass exodus of Altman loyalists, tainting its once invincible reputation. With no shortage of AI trailblazers to fill this new hole, the tech ecosystem should prepare for a new frontrunner.

Nerd narrative

There's a 45% chance that Mira Murati will be the next non-interim CEO of OpenAI, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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