Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Fire and Rehire

Posted 12/11/2023 by Nate Bolinske

Taking a lead in AI discoveries, Sam Altman is the CEO and part creator of Open AI or Chat GPT. photo by David Paul Morris

Sam Altman, former CEO of OpenAI, has been in and out of the company, leaving the tech world confused.

In Silicon Valley, leadership changes can send shockwaves through the tech industry; the recent release and rehire of Sam Altman is one example of this and has become a popular story throughout the country. Altman, a prominent figure in the tech world, has played roles as co-chairman of OpenAI, and president of the company Y Combinator. His unexpected leave and subsequent return have sparked conversations across the tech industry about his leadership skills within his career. 

Altman’s journey has been remarkable; as co-chairman of OpenAI, he contributed to the development of artificial intelligence. On November 17, 2023, Sam Altman was fired by the board of OpenAI, due to a lack of trust, mainly rooted on the fact that the development of AI systems needs to be done responsibly. According to Axios, The board believed that “he was not consistently candid with his communications, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.” His recent departure from the company raised questions about the future of OpenAI, not only within the public, but within the company itself. Hundreds of OpenAI employees voiced their opinions by threatening a mass resignation that would ultimately tear the company apart. Almost right after Altman’s release, “president and Altman ally Greg Brockman — whom the board had removed as chairman — resigned, as did three senior researchers. All were set to join Altman at Microsoft, as were as many as hundreds of other employees.” This quote, reported by The Verge, showed that most employees valued Altman’s strong leadership, and entirely disagreed with the decision. However, Altman was rehired as CEO just three days later on November 20 and his return has not only reinstated confidence in the organization, but uncovered his versatility as a leader. 

Before his administrative success, Altman, born in 1985, was a well-known player in the technology industry, noted for his entrepreneurial skills and key roles. Altman began his career as a software entrepreneur at an early age, co-founding Loopt, a location-based social networking app, at the age of 19. This early achievement laid the groundwork for his rise in the industry.

When Green Dot Corporation acquired Loopt in 2012, Altman’s entrepreneurial life drastically changed. Following this acquisition, Altman’s leadership qualities were highlighted when he was named president of Y Combinator, a well-known startup accelerator, in 2014. Under his leadership, Y Combinator cemented its role as a launchpad for countless great businesses, helping organizations such as Dropbox and Airbnb flourish.

Aside from his business ventures, Altman has been renowned for his forward-thinking views on technology, artificial intelligence, and the future of employment. His strong observations and strategic vision have established him as a tech sector thought leader. Altman’s life was distinguished by a trail of accomplishments prior to joining OpenAI as its co-chairman, demonstrating his major impact on the startup ecosystem and his passion to change the future of technology.

Altman’s firing from OpenAI was a move that surprised many in the tech community. A variety of rumors circulated around his exit, from personal to strategic differences. Altman, known for a forward thinking approach, remained silent in a time of confusion, leaving the tech world in suspense. 

During his absence, OpenAI navigated through a period of transition, allowing other leaders to step up in Altman’s place, and continuing the journey of OpenAI, to explore the applications of AI for the benefit of humanity. While OpenAI moved on, the industry kept their eyes on Altman’s departure and its effects on OpenAI’s trajectory. 

Before his reinstatement, Altman was hesitant to join his old companions at the company he helped create, but his overwhelming love for the craft of artificial intelligence ultimately led to his return. Altman stated in a Verge Interview that, “It took me a few minutes to snap out of it and get over the ego and emotions, then be like ‘yeah of course I want to do that.’” 

Altman’s return has rekindled hope and speculation alike within OpenAI. Many question his return, but his abrupt rehire has shown Altman’s resilience and ability to adapt throughout his career. 

Under Altman, OpenAI thrives again, and his guidance has expanded the forefront of AI research and development. His return signifies a renewed focus on AI, as well as its role to benefit humanity. Altman said in an interview with The Verge regarding his return, “we’re making such great progress on the mission I care so much about, the mission of safe and beneficial AGI.” 

From his beginning days to his current status at OpenAI, Altman has mentored and taught skills to all of his colleagues, and is impressed with the excellence produced by the employees he once mentored. Altman mentioned in the same Verge Interview, “I learned that the company can truly function without me, and that’s a very nice thing. I’m very happy to be back, don’t get me wrong on that. But I come back without any of the stress of, ‘Oh man, I got to do this, or the company needs me or whatever.’ I selfishly feel good because either I picked great leaders or I mentored them well. It’s very nice to feel like the company will be totally fine without me, and the team is ready and has leveled up.” 

Altman’s complicated journey has shown the world that strategic moves and unexpected comebacks shape the trajectory of a company, and allow all employees to benefit. As OpenAI moves forward under Altman’s leadership, the tech community is eager to witness the impact of his powerful approach on the field of artificial intelligence.