Executive dismissal at OpenAI: many lessons for businesses

Firing a CEO is a big decision and should not be taken lightly – especially when the company is in the limelight like OpenAI is.

Since the board of OpenAI fired CEO Sam Altman last week – and even with his reinstatement as top boss – it’s been one news story after another. First, the standard, “CEO fired articles,” and now we saw information like this:



I don’t pretend to have unique insight into the backroom decisions of OpenAI, ChatGPT, or Microsoft. But what I do know is people. And as a people leader, I would have advised the board to think through the people side of things.

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3 thoughts on “Executive dismissal at OpenAI: many lessons for businesses

  1. This is reminding me more and more of Market Basket from a few years ago, with the stock fight between Good Arthur and Bad Arthur, thousand of employees walking out in protest, tends (or hundreds) of thousands of customers protesting outside stores with no inventory on the shelves, and at least one Governor and US Senator intervening when so many employees walked out it showed up in national unemployment numbers.

    It all sounds rather cult-like, but it’s not hard to see who the good guys are.

  2. Suzanne, I think you missed an important point… this is a non-profit board. Sometimes the board is more dedicated to the mission than the employees, because the employees have bills to pay with their salaries, but the board was supposedly hired to promote the vision of the organization.

    Same as if a women’s shelter comes into a lot of money. Some of the employees are going to say that they should use it to increase raises, but sometimes the board is thinking… we keep wages the same as open ten more beds each night.

  3. I’m still not sure what to really think of all of it… The entire ordeal has probably been quite damaging for OpenAI as a company. Can’t imagine how awkward some of their staff must be feeling right now!

    I wonder how much of this is to do with Microsoft trying to monetise it vs OpenAI’s board taking more of a safety first approach.

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