Thursday July 25, 2024

Sam Altman, OpenAI boss, becomes TIME's 'CEO of the Year 2023'

Sam Altman rose to become one of the world's most influential and revered executives,

By Web Desk
December 06, 2023
Sam Altman CEO of the Year TIME magazine cover. — TIME
Sam Altman "CEO of the Year" TIME magazine cover. — TIME

Sam Altman, the Open AI boss, who had a bizarre Thanksgiving due to an existential war for control of a corporation, became TIME's "CEO of the Year" on Wednesday.

Normally, the CEO of OpenAI travels to St Louis to see relatives for Thanksgiving. This time, he was exhausted by the Open AI controversy. 

He went for a walk at his Napa Valley property before returning to San Francisco to meet with one of the board members who had recently sacked and reinstated him in five frenetic days, reported Naina Bajekal and Billy Perrigo from TIME.

He turned off his computer for a few hours to make vegetarian spaghetti, listen to loud music, and drink wine with his fiancé, Oliver Mulherin. "This was a 10-out-of-10 crazy thing to live through," Altman told TIME on November 30. "So I'm still just reeling from that."

We're speaking exactly one year after OpenAI released Chat-GPT, the most widely used technology service in history. 

The chatbot and its successor, GPT-4, profoundly influenced the firm and the globe. "2023 was the year that many people started taking AI seriously," Altman adds. 

OpenAI began as a nonprofit research centre committed to developing artificial intelligence for the sake of humanity but has since grown into an $80 billion rocket ship. 

Altman became one of the world's most influential and revered executives, the public face and the leader of a technology revolution.

Until the rocket ship almost exploded. On November 17, OpenAI's nonprofit board of directors dismissed Altman without notice or explanation. The bizarre manoeuvring that ensued made Succession's corporate intrigues appear tame. 

Employees rose in revolt. OpenAI's influential investors felt the same way, with one even speculating that one of the directors who deposed Altman was a Chinese spy. The company's visionary chief scientist voted to fire his fellow co-founder, only to reverse his decision. Two temporary CEOs have come and gone.