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HomeAi CompaniesOnly Thing Worse Than OpenAI Firing Was Dad's Death

Only Thing Worse Than OpenAI Firing Was Dad’s Death

  • Getting fired from OpenAI was “unbelievably painful,” says Sam Altman.
  • Altman said “the only comparable set of life experience” he had was when his father passed away.
  • Altman was fired as CEO on November 17, but returned just days later.

Losing the OpenAI CEO gig hit Sam Altman very hard.

“The only comparable set of life experience I had, and that one was of course much worse, was when my dad died,” Sam Altman told Trevor Noah in a podcast interview, which aired on Thursday.

Altman was abruptly ousted from the job on November 17. The chaotic leadership transition saw the appointment of two interim CEOs before Altman was reinstated just days later.

Altman, who said his firing was “unbelievably painful,” drew parallels between that experience and the grief he felt when his dad passed away in 2018. Altman’s father was 67 when he died of a heart attack, per New York Magazine.

“It was so unexpected that I had to pick up the pieces of his life for a little while. And it wasn’t until like a week after that, that I really got a moment to just catch my breath and be like, holy shit, I can’t believe this happened,” Altman told Noah of his father’s passing.

“So that was much worse, but there’s echoes of that same thing here,” he continued.

Altman’s sudden departure from the ChatGPT maker caught the tech world by surprise. OpenAI’s board said in the statement announcing his firing that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board” but did not give further details.

The firing drew a groundswell of protests from OpenAI’s staff, with nearly all of them threatening to quit unless Altman was reinstated.

“To all of you, our team: I am sure books are going to be written about this time period, and I hope the first thing they say is how amazing the entire team has been,” Altman wrote in a message to the company on November 29.

Representatives for Altman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama, a lifelong enthusiast of Artificial Intelligence, has been exploring technology and the digital realm since childhood. Known for his creative thinking, he's dedicated to improving AI experiences for all, making him a respected figure in the field. His passion, curiosity, and creativity drive advancements in the AI world.
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