Daily Digest: Biggest weekend in AI

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Daily Digest #288

Hello folks, here’s what we have today;

  • OpenAI fired its CEO Sam Altman on Friday. Since then, combined seasons of Succession and Silicon Valley have happened.

  • Sam Altman, Greg Brockman will join Microsoft with other top researchers from Open AI.

  • Emmett Shear (co-founder of Twitch) as the Interim CEO of Open AI.

Update just before hitting publish: Ilya Sutskever apologizes for his participation in the actions of the board. You can follow me on Twitter @bentossell or get the summary tomorrow (if you prefer staying sane).

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OpenAI’s rivals rush to poach staff after Altman ouster. Here are some who are sharing publicly.

  • Perplexity: Head of growth, software engineers and LLM teacher.

  • Nvidia: The AI agents research team with senior researcher Jim Fan.

  • Cohere: Machine learning members of technical staff.

  • xAI: AI researcher and full stack engineer.


OpenAI fired its CEO Sam Altman on Friday. Since then, combined seasons of Succession and Silicon Valley have happened leading up to Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and other top researchers from Open AI joining Microsoft and Emmett Shear (co-founder of Twitch) as the Interim CEO of Open AI.

Here’s a quick overview of the timeline, what really went down, and the rumours/opinions

Friday noon, 17th Nov 2023: Open AI board fires Sam Altman. OpenAI releases a blog post announcing changes in OpenAI’s leadership.

Friday noon, 17th Nov 2023: Satya Nadella responds. “We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need.”

Journalists report that Microsoft and other investors got to know about the decision only a minute before it was made public.

Friday night, 17th Nov 2023: Greg Brockman quits Open AI. Greg Brockman shares Sam and his POV. Still, no clear reasons. Sam found out 30 mins before the news, and Greg only got 5 mins. Sam reposts this, shares his feelings and jokes(?) about going off.

The move is compared to a coup staged by Ilya Sutskever (Chief Scientist), Mira Murati and the board in an attempt to slow down the pace of the company. Previous news about Sam’s fundraising plans and hardware discussions linked to being the motivation.

Friday late night, 17th Nov 2023: Three senior researchers at OpenAI leave.

  • Jakub Pachocki - The company’s Director of Research.

  • Szymon Sidor - Seven-year researcher at the startup.

  • Aleksander Madry - Head of a team evaluating potential risks from AI.

Saturday, 18th Nov 2023: The Board reconsiders bringing Sam and Greg back

Throughout the day, Microsoft, other Investors and (not yet public) staff willing to leave pressured the board to resign and bring Sam back as CEO. People at OpenAI are optimistic that Sam will be back. The board agreed in principle but missed the 5 PM deadline to execute on it.

Saturday night, 18th Nov 2023: Dozens of OpenAI employees repost Sam’s tweet: i love the openai team so much

X feeds are filled with OpenAI employees including execs and heads of departments reposting Sam’s tweet with heart emojis. COO Brad Lightcap, CSO Jason Kwon and CTO Mira Murati are among them.

Show of immense negotiating power from team Sam. Along with OpenAI employees, tech and startup X (Twitter) were on Sam’s side. Apart from affiliations with Sam Altman, another leading cause is the danger upon OpenAI’s $86B share sale by this decision.

Sunday noon, 19th Nov 2023: Sam is back in the Open AI office but with a guest tag. Altman and Brockman arrive at OpenAI Headquarters as execs push to reinstate them.

Sama needs to give lessons: “How to up your twitter game for multibillion founders”

Sunday Night, 19th Nov 2023: (in the order of public reveal)

1) Sam Altman is NOT returning as CEO of OpenAI. Emmet Shear is the new interim CEO of OpenAI.

2) Satya Nadella brings Sam Altman, Greg Brockman and colleagues to join Microsoft.

Sunday late night, 19th Nov 2023: everything is happening too fast

Statement from Emmett on his decision: Emmet has a three-point plan for his first 30 days. Clarifies that Sam wasn’t fired because of any safety issues. Say he got full board support for the commercialization of models.

Greg Brockman shares the details about Sam and Greg’s new team inside Microsoft:

“We’re going to build something new & it will be incredible,” adding that the initial management team also includes Jakub Pachocki, Szymon Sidor, and Aleksander Madry. (The researchers who left on Friday night, just after Sam and Greg)

Mass exodus* from OpenAI with OpenAI is nothing without its people tweet storm. Sam is reposting the tweets with hearts. Here’s some of the key people included:

  • Mira Murati - CTO

  • Brad Lightcap - COO

  • Jason Kwon - CSO

  • Boris Power - Head of Applied Research

  • Jason Wei - AI researcher

  • Aliisa Rosenthal - Head of Sales

*easy-to-follow interpretation

Want to read the detailed story with sources? Here you go.

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