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OpenAI Employees Call Sam Altman’s Ousting ‘the Blip’: Report

Perhaps Sam Altman is inevitable.

The vibes at OpenAI after CEO Sam Altman was forced out of the company behind ChatGPT apparently reminded employees of Thanos’ moment of triumph in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Some OpenAI employees described the dramatic events from last November as “The Blip,” the New York Times reported.

“The Blip” refers to a moment in the 2018 movie “Avengers: Infinity War” where the supervillain erased half of all life on the planet with a snap of his fingers. After the Avengers reversed the slaughter five years later, people who disappeared returned to an unfamiliar world, leading to mass confusion and disillusionment.

The Times reported that some OpenAI describe the chaos at the AI giant in the same way.

OpenAI didn’t immediately respond to BI’s request for comment when asked about employee sentiment following the internal disputes.

Just days after Altman’s departure, 770 employees — or 95% of OpenAI’s workforce at the time — signed an open letter threatening to quit and accept offers to work at Microsoft unless he was reinstated as CEO and the board resigned.

When Altman was back at the helm in late November, some employees still felt uneasy.

Workers previously told Business Insider that they were left in the dark about what caused the dispute between Altman and OpenAI’s board. Some started to look for jobs outside of the company because of the uncertainty.

Companies like Salesforce, a cloud giant, were prepared to poach them to work on its own AI efforts, and rival AI companies like Hugging Face and Cohere told CNBC they got more customer inquiries after Altman’s return.

The Times learned that Mira Murati — the CTO of OpenAI once slated to replace the AI leader as interim CEO in November — may have played a pivotal role in giving him the boot.

The Times reported that she allegedly approached the board after sending a “private memo” to Altman with concerns about his management style.

Anonymous sources told the Times that Murati thought Altman was using his style to “manipulate executives to get what he wanted” and “undermine the credibility of people who challenged him.”

But Murati denied voluntarily reaching out to OpenAI’s board to give feedback on Altman and said she would only give her two cents when board members approached her, according to the Times.

The CTO, reached through OpenAI, didn’t respond to BI when asked about her alleged involvement in the board decision.

If the CTO did, in fact, question Altman’s leadership, that could be one reason why the board said it no longer had confidence in the CEO’s ability to continue leading the company, though the full story behind his shock firing is still a mystery.

More unreported details about Altman’s ousting are expected to come out when WilmerHale, a law firm, publishes its report based on its investigation into Altman’s exit and return in the next few days.

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