Why was Sam Altman pushed aside as CEO of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, a few weeks ago? There is no certainty about this yet, although there are rumors circulating that his dismissal may be linked to accusations of toxic leadership.
Source: The Washington postToday at 3:40 PM
Altman himself, who is now the head of OpenAI again after a lot of fuss, refuses to talk about the true circumstances of his (short-lived) departure. Microsoft, the company that tried to acquire Altman, is also silent in all languages. For the time being, it remains a matter of speculation about the reason behind the most discussed dismissal of the year.
However, the American newspaper The Washington Post allows some experienced OpenAI employees to speak (on an anonymous basis) and they accuse Altman, recently voted CEO of the year by Time magazine, of being a terrible boss. For example, he is said to be “prone to ambiguity and manipulative behavior” and “tried to fire a colleague at least once” – although the latter may not be so bizarre for a CEO.
According to the newspaper, in the run-up to his dismissal, several complaints were submitted to the OpenAI board about Altman’s allegedly “psychologically abusive” and “toxic” behavior. He was accused of turning employees against each other and causing “chaos” within the company.
The accusations come from “two people with knowledge of the situation,” according to The Washington post. The same sources said the complaints were “a major factor in the board’s abrupt decision to fire him.”
Several board members believed Altman also lied to them as part of his scheme to get board member Helen Toner fired. The two had previously clashed after she wrote an article criticizing OpenAI and for having different views on what direction the organization should take. She was one of four board members who voted for his dismissal. When that decision was reversed, she resigned herself. However, she also refuses to comment on what the immediate cause of Altman’s dismissal was. She only stated that the decision to let him go seemed like “a good way” at the time to honor the original mission of “nonprofit organization” Open AI. “Our goal was to strengthen the company.”
Until recently, the prevailing theory surrounding Altman’s ouster was that the CEO and board were at loggerheads over the pace at which the company’s AI technology was commercialized. Read: the board, which says it is committed to responsible and ethical AI development, felt that Altman was “no longer aligned” with their mission. While this theory still seems to have some support, the evidence seems to increasingly point toward Altman’s difficult personality.