The most surprising detail of Altman's ouster might be the fact that OpenAI fired him over a Google Meet call
- Sam Altman was fired via Google Meet, according to his former colleague Greg Brockman.
- Some are poking fun at the company for using a competitor product over one from Microsoft.
Some might say that Friday was not a day for corporate loyalty at OpenAI.
The ChatGPT maker abruptly fired its CEO, Sam Altman, around noon on Friday, shocking many inside and outside the company Minutes later, it proceeded to dismiss its president, Greg Brockman, from its board, according to details Brockman disclosed in a post on X on Friday night.
But an ironic detail of OpenAI's executive overhaul was that Altman and Brockman were notified that they were being removed from their roles via Google Meet, which Brockman noted in his post.
Was that a snub to Microsoft, OpenAI's lead investor, which makes its own set of workplace communication tools? Some tech workers took to social media to crack jokes about it.
"Wait, seriously? They fired Sam Altman on Google Meet? That's messed up. Couldn't they have at least made it a Microsoft Teams meeting?" one tech worker wrote on X. Teams, by the way, also has a full page of instructions on how to execute "real-time employee termination," including setting up final day tasks. (Though Altman didn't seem to have any given what has been reported on the topic so far.)
Another person joked on X, "Altman getting fired via Google Meet says everything you need to know about Microsoft Teams."
Others are saying the decision played right into the hands of Google — which already stands to benefit from the palace intrigue at OpenAI.
Rishikesh Taksale, creative content manager, offered a visual on X of Google workers rejoicing as they eavesdropped on the call:
Google HQ listening to the Google meet call between Sam Altman and OpenAI board pic.twitter.com/ny7HmC4f7U— Rishikesh Taksale (@rishilectual) November 18, 2023
Taksale said he was inspired by Altman and his work in a message to Insider on X. "It was disheartening to see whatever happened to him but I hope he will come back with something greater."
And employees at Microsoft were pretty shocked by the board's decision, too. Leaders at the tech giant only received a warning of Altman's departure minutes before the news was out.
Microsoft is OpenAI's leading investor and has invested some $13 billion into the AI company. Just this year, it signed away $10 billion into OpenAI in a deal that directs a portion of OpenAI's profits to Microsoft. The chatbot for Microsoft's search engine, Bing, is also powered by OpenAI's GPT-4.
For now, the relationship between OpenAI and Microsoft still seems to be on solid footing. OpenAI's interim CEO, Mira Murati, assured employees the partnership was stable in a company-wide meeting on Friday. While Microsoft CEO, Nadella, also affirmed its long-term agreement with OpenAI in a post on X Friday.
Microsoft did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for a comment.
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