scorecardAs Ilya Sutskever announces OpenAI exit, here’s a quick recap of his involvement in Sam Altman's firing last year
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As Ilya Sutskever announces OpenAI exit, here’s a quick recap of his involvement in Sam Altman's firing last year

As Ilya Sutskever announces OpenAI exit, here’s a quick recap of his involvement in Sam Altman's firing last year
Tech3 min read
Ilya Sutskever, co-founder and chief scientist at OpenAI, has confirmed his departure from the world’s most prominent artificial intelligence startup. This exit comes six months after Sutskever was involved in a failed attempt to overthrow the company's CEO, Sam Altman.

Sutskever is widely recognised as a leading figure in deep learning and artificial intelligence. His contributions were instrumental in establishing OpenAI's early prominence in the emerging field of generative AI, which focuses on creating tools capable of generating multimedia responses to human queries.

Responding to the development, Sam wrote on X: “Ilya and OpenAI are going to part ways. This is very sad to me; Ilya is easily one of the greatest minds of our generation, a guiding light of our field, and a dear friend. His brilliance and vision are well known; his warmth and compassion are less well known but no less important.”

In November 2023, Sutskever allegedly played a central role in an unsuccessful coup within OpenAI's leadership. Alongside other board members, he sought to remove CEO Sam Altman and fellow co-founder Greg Brockman from the board. Despite their efforts, the coup ultimately faltered.

Here’s a quick lookback on the events that transpired and the pivotal role that Sutskever played in them.
Recap: Ilya Sutskever’s role in Sam Altman firing
On November 17, 2023 (Friday), Ilya Sutskever reached out to his boss and fellow board member, Sam Altman, requesting a video chat scheduled for noon Pacific time. Present on the call were other members of OpenAI's board, but it was Sutskever who delivered the unexpected news: Altman was being fired, and the formal announcement would soon follow.

This meeting marked the beginning of a tumultuous weekend and sparked a rebellion among OpenAI's employees.

By the following Monday (Nov 20), Sutskever surprised many with a sudden change of heart, expressing how he “deeply regretted” his participation in the board's actions and “never intended to harm OpenAI”. This change was reportedly triggered by an emotional meeting with Anna Brockman, Greg Brockman's wife, and pressure from a substantial portion of the company's staff.


By late Tuesday (Nov 21), efforts to reinstate Altman as OpenAI's CEO had succeeded. A subsequent review determined that Altman's dismissal had been unjustified.

Following these events, Ilya Sutskever's tenure on the board was not renewed, although he retained his position within OpenAI.

Despite being a prominent figure within the company, credited with the development of the ChatGPT chatbot and responsible for ensuring the safe development of AI tools, Sutskever has since kept a low profile — until this week.
What next for Ilya Sutskever and OpenAI?
Now, OpenAI Chief Scientist and co-founder Ilya Sutskever has confirmed that he is leaving OpenAI, putting an end to months of speculation within Silicon Valley.

In a tweet on Wednesday, May 15, Sutskever announced his decision to part ways with the AI company, adding how “the company’s trajectory has been nothing short of miraculous” and that it has been an “honour and a privilege” to work with his OpenAI colleagues.


Replacing Sutskever as Chief Scientist is Jakub Pachocki, who has been a part of OpenAI's research team since 2017 and was mentored by Sutskever himself.

The announcement of Sutskever's exit coincides with OpenAI's unveiling of a new and improved version of their AI technology. The upgraded model, GPT-4o, promises even higher performance and a more human-like interface, slated for integration into OpenAI's products in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Sutskever has hinted at the launch of a new project during a statement on Tuesday, though he refrained from providing further details.

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