Leaving aside much of the other craziness: Who did the board expect would replace him? Did they expect to install Ilya and he bailed last minute? How could you possibly be calling around on a weekend trying to recruit a CEO? Everyone is knocking the board, so I am not going to break new ground here, but WHAT TF were they thinking? My only thought is maybe they expected they could dump sama and slot in another high level figure and they would work it out, but there was so much immediate blowback that they bailed?
I think they planned for Mira Murati to act as interim CEO, but were surprised when she wanted to rehire Sam Altman.
One perspective that one often hears, but nobody seems to have brought up here, is that the role of the board is essentially a kind of joke that doesn't really do what it says on the tin. A bunch of friends of the management, given a lot of money for very little work.
People here have even pointed out how unqualified they think the board members are, or how they have conflicts of interest.
Picture yourself in this world where you essentially get free money for pretending to advise a company. Most of the time, you don't need to do shit. Other people have got you covered, the company does some well known widget-making business and everyone has known since business school how the business works. You just nod your head when there's a board meeting and otherwise try to keep a good handicap at the country club. When there's a decision to be made, you feel out which side will win and hedge your bets. You've get several of these board jobs, and each of them thinks the other memberships are why they are hiring you.
One day, your friend invites you to be on the board of a company that does something truly new and interesting. In fact some people say this is the modern day Manhattan project, taking humanity into a new yet potentially dangerous age. It's prestigious, and you think how different can it really be to any other business?
As time passes, you realize your strategy of just doing whatever the other board members are doing is not going to work. There is this really big question of what you should do about keeping things "safe", a vague idea that you've heard of from some prominent employees. It dawns upon you that you might actually have to think about what to do.
Eventually, you crap yourself, and you decide to use some of the formal powers of the board. You saw on Silicon Valley that the board can depose the CEO, maybe that should be done? You know a bunch of people who have talked about AI in the past, perhaps one of them has a clue about what to do?
You'd be getting on the bad side of some of the most powerful people in tech and taking the helm of a company full of people who don't want you running it. It's not a surprise a lot of people don't want the role.
What makes Sam Altman so damn special in this regard? Why is he immune to all these same adversarial interests and inputs where anyone else would be imperiled?
Emmett Shear is a YC insider and didn't hesitate...
And given the present turmoil they aren’t likely to remain in the position very long. Unless there are significant financial inducements, that vest without any tenure requirements, it’s hard to see an upside.
Because its a clown show and now you have a bunch of your talent leaving. You're always going to get compared with the former CEO. I can't believe anyone took the role.
Great that it takes people months nowadays interviewing to get hired for a mid level role, but apparently you can offer a half dozen people unvested, uninterviewed CEO roles at a billion dollar company on a whim.
Fun how that goes.
The interview was “found a billion dollar tech company” and they all already passed.
I think it's worth spelling out the difference.
The difference is that, for that mid level role, there are dozens of candidates who could fill it, who all look like good candidates on paper. It takes that long to sort through them all to find the person they like the most.
But imagine for a moment that they write a job description, and they can only expect a few people to meet the requirements ever, and you're one of them. Also the job should've been filled yesterday.
It's not going to take months to fill it. It'll take a week or less.
This was that situation. But normally, those executive searches take months.
You know who's a key player in this story, probably the most successful businessperson involved, who only got the CEO job after 5-6 months? Satya Nadella.
And he would probably agree with you that this was a terrible way to hire a CEO that reflects poorly on the company.
I will absolutely hire a few people I have worked with to push out successful multi-million dollar projects over the last few decades over you.
Only on HN do you see salty comments like this
Slight difference in urgency in hiring someone to center align some buttons on a website vs lead a $90 billion company which is in chaos.
It's a big club, and you ain't in it.
Supply & demand sure is fun.
I mean they interview you because you’re a nobody off the street. Everyone already knows what these CEOs have done and accomplished because they lead very high profile public lives. What sort of imbecile tier whataboutism is this.
its gotta sting Emmett Shear that he's now known to be at least 3rd choice for the role... and may not even keep it
On the contrary, it probably feels like he's doing someone a favor. It's not a great role to accept right now.
You think CEOs actually think like that?
Only the desperate would take the job. Nat Friedman and Alex Wang have enough self-respect and are too clever to accept that offer from the board.
Taking the role would be like backstabbing YC. It would feel wrong.
Emmett Shear, current CEO of OpenAI, is a YC alum and a YC "visiting group" partner: https://www.ycombinator.com/blog/welcome-back-to-yc-emmett-s...
And you wouldn't be in Satya's good books either.
They are trying to clean up this mess and now is not the time to be opportunistic.
That seems like a mess i wouldnt want to jump into.
I'll do it.
Can't blame them. This is a worse mess than being the CEO of X.
OpenAI at least still has a valuable product.
I find Alexandr Wang absolutely insufferable on Twitter. I am glad he declined it
That plus the "digital" sweatshops
There’s nothing not permanent than a temporary fix
Jesus, Alexandr's like 26. Can you imagine being at the helm of openai at 26
Scale.ai was valued at 7.3 billion in 2021, which was before the current AI craze.
I mean, OpenAI would be a step up in some regards under ideal circumstances. But under these circumstances he is wise to stay at his 10+ billion dollar company.
So, can you imagine having built and being at the helm of Scale.ai at 26?
mirati is 34...
Update (11/20/23 8 PM PST):
NYT just released a new interview with Sam Altman:
(I have not watched it yet, but will soon.)
In the intro, they say the interview was from last week.
So it’s way less interesting.
I think the board was surprised when nobody bought their claim of Sam’s vague wrongdoing.
Actually, I think every plot twist we’ve seen has been a surprise for them as they have consistently acted without 5 minutes of foresight.
And not just with the drama. For example, according to Stratechery, the clause in the contract saying Microsoft couldn’t use GPT-4 as a foundation for their own models was recently removed in a contract revision. If you don’t like your CEO, and Microsoft likes your CEO, and Microsoft has the rights to your models and code, it doesn’t take much to add up 2 + 2 + 2 = 6.
Hmm, that contract revision _would_ have been grounds for dismissing Sam, if only the board had known...?
The current story is that the board scrambled to find unconvincing grounds when explaining themselves to employees instead 38356534
> Actually, I think every plot twist we’ve seen has been a surprise for them as they have consistently acted without 5 minutes of foresight.
Which is ironic considering how much they claim to be focused on long term risks :)
I guess they weren't involved in the day to day enough to know that about the contract
eh, I'm pretty sure there was wrong doing the difference is entirely whether you're on the profit side or the nonprofit side.
I like how she has a wikipedia page that is 1 week old.
I totally agree in general but usually early stage tech companies have decent boards. Usually because it is investors representing their interests. Also, in a nascent tech sector you usually have at least the appearance of strong reputation, like Theranos for example. That said, if we look at OpenAI like the non-profit it was founded to be, those are exactly as you describe, a fun way to boost reputation for rich people and dole out some cash to connections. Also, Sam and Greg were cut out of the board, they were likely the true boardroom know how.
How many board meetings have you attended, in any capacity?
Several but not many, as a board member. None of the boards I was on had frequent meetings. But also I was always on the "working" side of the board.
My impression of the external side is somewhat similar to the view I'm presenting above. It's not that they are completely unqualified to comment on the company, they actually had tangentially relevant experience. But what did they really add, other than making our webpage look better? And if things went wrong, what would they really lose? They are just curious folks who are excited to be around business, and can introduce us to interested parties.
The other thing the board is supposed to do is pull the emergency break if stuff goes wrong. It's hard to know how closely they monitored that sort of thing, given it doesn't happen that much. Also if things get bad, do they jump ship or act like what a bystander might in a car accident, ie try to call emergency services but not stick their head in the fire? Because the rest of us have our heads in the fire.
I love this take!
It's more "how" than "who" (although "who" also matters)
If the board talked to Altman and said, "hey this is the wrong direction" or "it's moving too fast." Then if they'd given him a chance to adjust. And only if they were unable to agree after a reasonable time, then they crafted a plan to responsibly change leadership after a transition period, that'd probably be fine.
But instead they just bounced him randomly and called him a liar publicly without any thought on who would step in. Who would want to work for them?
I think to a certain extent they knew how weak they were. They knew if it turned into a long drawn out protracted fight in public it would be bad for them. You can imagine it now - David Sacks going on a long rant about how they don't have skin in the game and they're woke etc. etc. What the board was there to do - act as a check on the for-profit part of the company, goes basically directly against what most people in silicon valley want. So I don't think it's unreasonable that they thought they needed to move before Sam shored up support from investors etc.
He's honestly a bit more "sympathetic" than this incorporeal Board even thought there is innuendo he's awful and there's obviously accusations re:sister altho she seems a little waffley based on what I've resd about her comments on the matter
Because he's the former president of YC. One of the powerful people you'd be pissing of by doing this is Sam Altman.
Don’t think the former CEO of GitHub is going to be that alarmed about upsetting Sam Altman. You may be seeing their decision making through the lens of a no-name founder applying to YC for their first cheque.
Can he like...hack my HN account aha? That would be the extent of my concern or fear of him
I'd be more worried that all your employees don't want you there, and you'll be in for a lot of cold shoulder meetings every day. Doesn't sound like fun.
The "powerful" people outside, matter a lot less. No matter what you do, if you're influential, about half the powerful will hate you and half will love you.
What does YC have to do with OpenAI?
If 90% of the employees who signed the letter to dismiss the board would follow him, he is kind of special right now. Or maybe anyone in their right mind would side with the ousted CEO rather than an impulsive board.
It’s simply greed:
OAI employees have $5-20m+ equity packages and want that number to grow, and they trust the guy who’s made himself the face of the company through its growth
The large financial stakes of OAI employees is more powerful than ideas about morality or idealism that are offered as the reasons here
They have an opportunity to sell equity next month as well in a second offering and obviously don’t want to wipe out that value suddenly. The workers stand to make hugely generational wealth overnight. Of course that’s on their mind as otherwise wage earners.
Maybe 90% of employees doesn't follow Sam specifically, but are appalled by the board's behavior?
Am ai a bad person for considering this a reasonable heuristic for concluding the wrong decision was made and also that he may very well be the leader we need for OpenAI rather than the leader we deserve or would ideally best comport in that role?
It seems also similar to that old conspiracy thing where "Nobody talks [acts unilaterally] and everyone escspes justice"
Imagine the huge change the company took. They went from negotiating on a deal which would turn OpenAI into an 80 billion dollar company to this deal may no longer going through.
You would then be working under this huge change with a CEO with a mission to "slow down" and likely feeling much more constrained by the board. Altman would likely push back a lot more.
I get why this idea is appealing, but by that metric, Adam Neumann of WeWork also already passed.
Occam's Razor. This is impulsive firing, with impulsive hiring on the way.
Yep. The more you're exposed to silicon valley the more you realize how many whims there are controlling the important things. M&A for example is basically just whims. Due diligence is compliance-only and even that is just to tick a box. The higher the role also the likeliest that the CEO either knows them or "had a good feeling". Not every company of course, but it's very prevalent.
Elizabeth Holmes also more than qualifies. Her company was once valued at $10 billion.
But I hear she's currently unavailable...
Is he wrong? Hundreds of employees and billions in investment would be entrusted to someone with <3 days of diligence?
They all know each other. The "diligence" has been going on for years.
Indeed. Silicon Valley's big "meritocracy" that is always so lauded.
Go start a company and grow it to a billion dollars no one is stopping you
The board created a mess without a plan, and now they’ll make it worse with a rushed hire. Not sure why one would defend them.
This board is a shit show. I was responding to the GPs comment which was more general and not just about OpenAI.
not sure any real 90B dollar company is hiring a CEO from a top 3 list in a weekend, making a decision without even an informal interview versus just "offering up the job"
even proven NFL coaches are just offered a job
if you told me 4 days ago that it'd be "doing someone a favor" to take the ceo job at openai... i'd have said you are hallucinating very badly
well, that's one of the things OpenAI is known for
Emmett was a part-time YC partner.
So there might be bad bad blood and he's doing it to spite YC, or it could be that he's in the loop with the insider chat and is stepping up to rescue what money they can and the VCs will pat him on the back?
Altman himself was pushed out of the president role at YC, not sure if Shear was a partner then. If he was he'd know the inside scoop
Regarding saving VCs money, if he pushes too hard for commercialization over safety he risks his job.
Did he turn the position down initially?
You should ask ChatGpt
Isn't Scale largely a 3rd world sweatshop for labeling training data?
I was a very different person at 34 than I was at 26. More mature in every way, with better judgment and critical thinking skills.
26 < 34 still
Well the board could have gone with “We fear a hostile takeover by Microsoft” if they really were afraid that Sam was doing that.
That’s also not the job of a board
In this case, with these stakes, I think it's in the board's purview to understand the implications of firing your CEO with no immediate replacement plan, and the current state of possibly the most important contract your company has would be relevant.
Thanks, never had the chance and it helps qualify your opinions vs an outsider.
Well he could have you shadowbanned on every platform except Onlyfans and Pornhub.
How would that benefit him other than discrediting his sister? She's not 1000% credible already in my view based on the tenor of her claims but I'm open to correction.
Even federated platforms, or private ones that I run on my own? How does that work? Please be precise when you say "every".
How so? Yallenge accepted
Edit: moar elaboration please
Its like Mr. Burns relying on the competing diseases to bottleneck his death
Appeal to hallucinated authority
Unlike my objection to the use of the concept of hullucination in relation to the output of LLMs, I concur here!
Sam Altman was President of YC and CEO of OpenAI.
only currently. give it most of the decade and you've got a candidate
Equality: When women can be as awful as some men and still get hired like them.
I get that they’ve known each other. But “diligence” usually suggests a more thorough vetting than being CEO buddies.
My take: the board already demonstrated they fire badly, and here we’ll see them hire bad as well.
Thorough and interim seem mutually exclusive to me. The whole point of an interim CEO is to have someone in the seat while you then be thorough. Given that, being CEO buddies seems as diligent as you could possibly be.
If Sam did something bad enough to warrant being removed as soon as they learned it, chucking someone you know personally and trust in the position while you then be thorough would seem the least bad course of action.
If Sam did not do something bad enough to warrant being removed as soon as they learned it, then firing him without any succession plan in place was a bad move and is "firing badly", but the hiring situation seems to me as exactly the same as in the "Sam did something really bad" line. Claiming both bad hiring and bad firing for the one decision seems like double counting to me, and will lead to circular reasoning. They hired badly ergo we can assume they fired badly, therefore they hired badly.
obviously the situation is stupid, but what could really be dug up in diligence? The pool of people who could run this company all have highly public track records and reputations, they are well known to the hiring team and certainly to the hiring teams network. Again, I have to imagine they had someone in place to take the role that dropped out, maybe Murati or Ilya first? Once internal candidates fell through, especially if the leadership team departs, you need someone capable of running a cutting edge tech company which basically means, you need to poach another CEO, who is likely highly capable, with tons of options who is willing to get dropped into the least winnable situation with absolutely no team. This isn't a mid-level product manager role that the company needs to fill, implying that it is remotely similar is not true AND implying that this is a regular thing that boards do over a weekend is also obviously not true. This is an insane situation and has very limited parallels, this whole thing will be our generations version of Barbarians at the Gates KKR.
Of course a lot of people are going to stop you.
Most, if not all, of the group of people we are talking about were born from rich parents who could afford them to study in the most prestigious universities of America and they were in their prime years when computers expanded everywhere during the 90´s/00’s and also when the economy was booming like never before in the human history.
Those people are now in positions of extreme power that never existed before that. In fact, they are all in power to decide if your future billion dollars company will live or die, and if they allow it to live, it will be under their control.
And if you somehow manage to fill through the cracks, you’ll ultimately be offered some big money to sell them your company well before you have the opportunity to become one of them.
Why do you have to be the billionaire like sam altman? Why can't you + a girl be the upper middle class professionals that create a sam altman (sr sde salary mother + derm md father) working for 30 years should easily give your son a head start like altman's parents gave him.
Good point! Better sit at home and not even try in that case. Thanks for your unique perspective that life is hard and it doesn’t feel fair.
> Altman himself was pushed out of the president role at YC,
I thought he was close to PG.
Yeah, he is. People on the internet make up facts fast.
It “hallucinates” often.
Compare the hallucinations of ChatGPT with the BS posted on Twitter.
Defederate me harder, Altman
This is what his sister said, they are just trolling I think.
Yep, I'm trolling. Thought it was obvious, but apparently not.
I think the implication is that he could “talk to his friends”, more than doing things directly.
Ya but that still ain't gonna tell them anything? Who uses "real" credentials anymore?
Also, why doesn't she just hire a lawyer to help her sign up ?
Sounds like an easy way to get off of social media!
Are you trolling? I answered your question in the clearest way I could think to.
I have no idea what the actual implications are of the relation. But it's there and it's suggested his network of friends from YC could bolster his position with OpenAI. No idea if that's true, but it's not like it is so strange a notion that it merits "playing dumb" like you're doing.
It just seems like such a weird claim. Like, does she have receipts to prove all these platforms are denying her? It just seems to be stretching credulity and I can't see how its possible for them to get this granular about it. I dunno, she needs to substantiate these things.
there have already been puff pieces aiming to rehabilitate her.
example: “Liz Holmes Wants You to Forget About Elizabeth”
I'm not against her trying to figure out how to make her life work.
I followed the story as it unfolded somewhat closer than I typically do. I said relatively little about it because I'm a woman on an overwhelmingly male forum and my point of view seemed wholly alien and unparseable here.
I think her gender contributed to the debacle. I'm not saying that makes her innocent, but I think there were extenuating circumstances.
> Good point! Better sit at home and not even try in that case.
That's not what I said.
And not even trying what ? I'm not saying you can't create a succesful company and earn a lot of money. I'm talking about power. The type of power those people have is virtually inaccessible to anyone. Because they have enough money to stop you in your way up. They have a wide range of options between destructing your business, taking control of it, or giving you enough money so that you stop your ascension.
After his quiet departure, the YC communication team edited his Wikipedia page to remove his affliation with YC. Make of that what you will, but I don't think many would even bothering doing that for an ex-employee if they were beloved
His sister has been reported to say that Sam Altman banned her from every platform except those two. It's been reported she might struggle with mental issues, though who knows what happened. So I'm pretty sure whoever said that was just trolling.
How the hell does that work? Why can't she use a VPN and not use her real identity like the rest of us? Does she insist on assuming her rightful place as an Altman?
Edit: she seriously said that re:Pornhub?! What is her association with porn and why would she bring that up?
Edit: unless the words came from her mouth, I wouldn't blow it up any further
Is there any such thing as like a reverse class action suit but like from one-to-many like her context would sort of fit in? Can one person do like an omnibus lawsuit against a bunch of companies for a common basis? That would very legal and very cool!
How does that fit in with the fact he's gay? That timeline better be tight and also that's kind of a not great thing for her. Like that's how they both discovered he was gay?
I don't know any of these people, just came across this stuff in the last couple of days and wanted to flag the possible troll, but here you go: https://twitter.com/phuckfilosophy/status/170997828542437802...
Its weird cuz he's gay so its duly disturbing if they shared in that discovery and also talked to Mom and Dad about it. This whole situstion sounds like it may have sufficient legs to moonlight as an Aristocrats joke