NB20 (Special Episode) – Sam Altman Out at OpenAI?

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Around mid-day on Friday, November 17, Sam Altman — the high-profile CEO of OpenAI — was fired without notice by the organization’s non-profit b0ard. CTO Mira Murati was elevated to interim CEO, president Greg Brockman lost his own board seat and subsequently quit, and several senior AI researchers resigned too. Word on the street is co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever was the man behind the moves and put the debate between speed vs safety, profit vs purpose at the heart of the decision. Or was it rumors that Altman was planning a new AI company and hadn’t been forthright with the board about what he’s working on?

But by Saturday, the company’s blindsided investors (including Microsoft) were jockeying to reinstate Altman and demanding that the board resign instead. Will Altman return? Maybe. Maybe not.

Is this a battle for the soul of generative AI? What does this mean for ChatGPT and all the tech startups that built their solutions on top of OpenAI’s large langauge models? And what — if anything — should marketers make of the shakeup?

In this “emergency edition” of No Brainer, Geoff Livingston and Greg Verdino summarize the unfolding drama (as of Sunday, 11/19 at 9am Eastern), and share their takes.

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