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A Timeline Of Sam Altman and OpenAI [Infographic]

Written by: Aditya Rana

Dec 01, 2023

timeline of sam altman and openai

It’s been a fast-paced November at OpenAI with a series events that caused uproar at the company (and the Internet).

If you were online between Nov 17-Nov 22, I’m sure you couldn’t escape the words Sam Altman and/or OpenAI.

To help make sense of everything that happened, we’ve created a timeline summarizing all the key details.

OpenAI crisis infographic

Nov 17: Sam Altman is dismissed

On Nov 16, Sam Altman received a text from the OpenAI board to join a Google Meet the following day.

At the meeting, Sam Altman was let go with Microsoft being one of the first to hear the news.

The same day, OpenAI President Greg Brockman resigned in solidarity as initial reports began flooding the internet.

Nov 18: Mia Murati appointed as interim CEO

Following Sam Altman’s dismissal, COO Brad Lightcap’s internal memo which cited a “breakdown in communication” with Altman began circulating as the main reason behind the decision.

And before people could even process the news, OpenAI appointed its CTO, Mia Murati, as interim CEO.

Nov 19: Microsoft announces hiring of Sam Altman

With Sam Altman a free agent, rumors about his future began to take off.

Altman himself said he was considering starting a new AI startup while Microsoft, a major investor and partner of OpenAI. announced it had hired Altman to lead a new research division at the company.

Nov 20: Former Twitch boss Emmett Shear announced as OpenAI CEO, tweet goes viral

It had seemed as if the matter was more or less resolved by day 4, but there were more twists and turns to come.

Unhappy with the way Altman was dismissed and the future of the company, over 500 OpenAI employees shared an open letter threatening to resign if Altman was not reinstated.

While this was happening, OpenAI announced the appointment of another CEO by the name of former Twitch boss Emett Shear.

After this, former interim CEO, Mia Murati, also joined in support of Altman by tweeting “OpenAI is nothing without its people”, which quickly started trending.

Nov 21: OpenAI announces it has reached a deal to reinstate Sam Altman as CEO

The next day, more support for Sam Altman was shared with OpenAI board member Ilya Sutskever expressing regret over the firing.

With pressure mounting and public backlash growing (and lots of behind-the-scenes negotiating), OpenAI announced that it had reached an agreement with Altman to return as CEO and install a new board.

Who is Sam Altman?

You’ve been hearing his name, but who exactly is Sam Altman?

Sam Altman is an American entrepreneur and a co-founder of OpenAI, a non-profit research company that promotes friendly artificial general intelligence. He is also the former president of Y Combinator, a startup accelerator.

He dropped out of Stanford University in 2005 to start his own company called Loopt which was a mobile social networking app that allowed users to share their location with friends.

After selling Loopt, Altman joined Y Combinator as a partner and became president in 2014.

In 2015, Altman co-founded OpenAI and became its CEO in 2019.

Altman is a controversial figure. He has been criticized for his views on artificial intelligence but is also respected for his intelligence and his commitment to using technology to make the world a better place.

who is sam altman infographic

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About Aditya Rana

Adi is a word slinger and loves to fiddle around with SaaS. When not living online, you'll find him outside in nature with a book.