Greg Brockman quits OpenAI after abrupt firing of Sam Altman

OpenAI co-founder and president Greg Brockman has quit the firm, he said Friday, hours after the Microsoft-backed giant abruptly fired its chief executive Sam Altman and assured that Brockman would remain at the startup. Brockman’s sudden departure adds to the day’s uncertainties at OpenAI, following closely on the heels of its maiden developer conference led by Altman.

Brockman said in a series of tweets that Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist at OpenAI, informed Altman about a Friday noon call on Thursday evening. On the call, Sutskever and the rest of the OpenAI board members told Altman that he had been fired.

“As far as we know, the management team was made aware of this shortly after, other than Mira who found out the night prior,” Brockman wrote. Mira Murati, the CTO of OpenAI, has been appointed as interim CEO of OpenAI, the startup said today.

OpenAI earlier said that Brockman was stepping down as chairman of the board, but will remain at the firm. Brockman, who co-founded OpenAI with Altman, is a close confidant of the former OpenAI chief executive. He said Friday that the board wanted him to continue, but he had chosen to resign and was saddened by the board’s direction.

OpenAI and Microsoft, which is not on the board of the startup but owns roughly half of the company, remain tightlipped about what led to the ouster of Altman from the startup, whose large language model kickstarted / supercharged the AI race.

The pair’s exit has sent shockwaves through Silicon Valley. Altman has been the public face of the startup, which not only is widely estimated to be leading the current AI race but has in less than a year also assumed the position of kingmaker for countless other startups that are building atop of OpenAI’s offerings.

“I’m super proud of what we’ve all built together since starting in my apartment 8 years ago. We’ve ben through tough & great times together, accomplishing so much despite all the reasons it should have been impossible,” wrote Brockman in a message to OpenAI team. “But based on today’s news, I quit. Genuinely wishing you all nothing but the best. I continue to believe in the mission of creating safe AGI that benefits all of humanity.”