OpenAI Leadership Crisis: The Timeline Analysis

Explore the pivotal week at OpenAI through our concise timeline, covering the firing of CEO Sam Altman, subsequent leadership resignations, and the unfolding corporate drama that’s reshaping the AI industry.

Nov 17, 2023

Sam Altman Fired, Brockman Resigns: In a startling move, OpenAI’s board dismisses CEO Sam Altman. This drastic action leads to the resignation of President Greg Brockman, signaling a major shift in the company’s leadership. The firing and subsequent resignation mark a period of uncertainty and potential strategic redirection for OpenAI.


  • Altman’s abrupt firing raises immediate concerns about the company’s future direction and stability.
  • Brockman’s resignation, following Altman’s departure, deepens the leadership crisis at OpenAI, indicating possible internal disagreements or conflicts.
  • The events of the day hint at significant upcoming changes in OpenAI’s strategy and governance.

Internal Disagreements Over AI Safety: The firing of Altman follows internal discord over the company’s approach to AI safety. The debate centers on the balance between rapid commercialization and ensuring the responsible development of AI technology. This internal conflict highlights the complex challenges faced by companies at the forefront of AI innovation.


  • The internal disagreement on AI safety reflects a growing industry-wide debate on ethical AI development.
  • The situation reveals the challenges OpenAI faces in aligning its commercial ambitions with its foundational principles of safe and responsible AI.
  • Employee concerns suggest a need for greater transparency and dialogue within OpenAI regarding its AI development policies.

Nov 18, 2023

Altman’s Potential Return and Board Changes: The prospect of Sam Altman’s return as CEO is under discussion, potentially leading to a significant overhaul of OpenAI’s board of directors. This discussion reflects the dynamic and fast-evolving nature of leadership within major tech companies and highlights the influence of key individuals in shaping the future of AI.


  • A possible return of Altman signifies a remarkable turnaround in the company’s recent tumultuous leadership changes.
  • Potential board restructuring could lead to new governance dynamics and strategic directions for OpenAI.
  • The unfolding situation underscores the impact of leadership decisions on the trajectory of technology companies.

$86 Billion Share Sale in Jeopardy: The upheaval puts at risk a significant $86 billion share sale, previously in its final stages. This development casts a shadow over OpenAI’s financial future and raises questions about its valuation and investor confidence.


  • The jeopardized share sale indicates the financial repercussions of the leadership crisis at OpenAI.
  • Growing skepticism among employees and investors reflects concerns about the company’s stability and future prospects.
  • The potential impact on OpenAI’s valuation and future fundraising efforts highlights the broader implications of corporate governance decisions.

Nov 19, 2023

Rivals Poach Staff, Shear Named Interim CEO: As OpenAI grapples with its internal crisis, competitors seize the opportunity to recruit its talent. The appointment of Emmett Shear as interim CEO adds another layer to the company’s evolving leadership landscape. These developments point to the competitive nature of the AI industry and the value of skilled professionals in this field.


  • Staff poaching by competitors illustrates the high demand for AI expertise and the vulnerability of companies in times of crisis.
  • Emmett Shear stepping in as interim CEO represents a critical moment for OpenAI, as the company navigates through its leadership upheaval.
  • The situation emphasizes the strategic importance of retaining talent in the highly competitive AI industry.

Staff Revolt and Microsoft’s Role: A revolt by OpenAI’s staff puts additional pressure on the board, signaling deep internal dissatisfaction. Microsoft’s consideration of a board position in a revamped OpenAI governance structure reflects its strategic interest in the company and highlights the complexities of investor relationships in high-stakes technology ventures.


  • The employee revolt at OpenAI underscores significant internal challenges and the importance of addressing staff concerns in decision-making processes.
  • Microsoft’s potential involvement in OpenAI’s governance indicates a deeper commitment and strategic interest in the company’s direction.
  • The evolving relationship between OpenAI and Microsoft demonstrates the intricate dynamics between major investors and innovative tech companies.

Nov 20, 2023

Khosla Criticizes Board, Microsoft’s New AI Team: Investor Vinod Khosla’s criticism of the OpenAI board’s actions signifies investor unrest and concern. Microsoft’s commitment to a new AI research team, including Altman and Brockman, showcases a strategic move to reinforce its position in the AI space and capitalize on the unfolding events at OpenAI.


  • Khosla’s public criticism reflects broader investor concerns about the board’s decisions and their impact on OpenAI’s mission and values.
  • Microsoft’s establishment of a new AI research team, incorporating former OpenAI leaders, underscores its ambition to be a leading player in AI development.
  • The collaboration between Microsoft and former OpenAI executives suggests potential new directions and innovations in AI technology.

Customers Consider Defecting: The leadership turmoil at Open

AI leads to its customers considering alternatives, such as Anthropic, Microsoft, and Google. This customer reaction highlights the competitive nature of the AI market and the importance of company stability in retaining customer loyalty.


  • The potential defection of customers underscores the importance of trust and stability in business relationships, particularly in the tech industry.
  • Competitors’ quick moves to attract OpenAI customers illustrate the opportunistic nature of the business landscape.
  • The customer response to OpenAI’s internal issues highlights the interconnectedness of company actions, market perception, and customer loyalty.

Continued Efforts for Altman’s Return to OpenAI: Sam Altman’s potential return to OpenAI as CEO is still being actively pursued. Despite his interim move to Microsoft, both he and co-founder Greg Brockman express willingness to return to OpenAI, conditional on the resignation of the board members who initiated his firing. The situation at OpenAI remains tense, with employees voicing strong opposition to the current board and showing solidarity with Altman.


  • Altman’s and Brockman’s willingness to return hinges on a major reshuffle of the OpenAI board.
  • Employee dissatisfaction and unity against the board’s decision highlight the internal support for Altman’s leadership.
  • Microsoft’s role in this transition period is pivotal, offering a potential alternative path for Altman and the OpenAI employees.

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