Turmoil at OpenAI: what’s next for the creator of ChatGPT?

ChatGPT logo in mint green and black colors.
Illustration: The Verge

CEO Sam Altman has returned to OpenAI, and Elon Musk is suing the company he helped to start.

The world’s hottest generative AI company went through three CEOs in under a week and ended up with the same one it had at the start — so what happened, and what’s next?

On November 17th, 2023, OpenAI’s board abruptly announced that effective immediately, co-founder and CEO Sam Altman was out. The shake-up came just shy of one year after the launch of ChatGPT, which quickly became one of the fastest-growing apps in history and initiated an industry-wide race to build generative AI tools.

The CEO job shuffled between CTO Mira Murati and former Twitch boss Emmett Shear and hundreds of OpenAI employees signed a letter saying they would leave for jobs at Microsoft unless the board reinstated Altman. In the end, Altman returned along with president Greg Brockman in a deal that came with a new set of board members, including one representing OpenAI’s biggest investor, Microsoft.

Everyone was happy, with the notable exception of former OpenAI co-founder Elon Musk. Musk filed a lawsuit against OpenAI, claiming it breached a contract that doesn’t exist, and saying that the pursuit of profit has led the company to abandon its founding mission to develop artificial general intelligence technology (AGI) that will benefit humanity.

All of the news and updates about OpenAI continue below.