OpenAI settled its abrupt CEO ouster turmoil only a few months ago in November, involving Sam Altman’s removal and his rapid reinstatement only a few days later. A fresh report from the New York Times shows that the conflicts between company executives were deeper than previously known.

OpenAI CTO Mira Murati, who previously appeared to side with Altman’s return as the company’s CEO, was reportedly deeply involved in his initial firing in the first place. The report from the NY Times citing sources familiar with the matter adds that Murati expressed doubts about Altman’s leadership in an internal memo sent to Altman himself. It is also reported that she conveyed her apprehensions to the board of directors.

Murati claimed that Altman would rally his colleagues to support his decisions and was quick to disparage those who would question them, or were simply just too indecisive, thus displaying highly manipulative behavior at work.

Additionally, Ilya Sutskever, co-founder and chief scientist, echoed concerns over Altman’s manipulative conduct. The executives painted a picture of a hostile work environment fostered under Altman’s leadership.

Concerns among board members escalated over the possibility that the departure of key figures such as Murati and Sutskever, prompted by Altman’s actions, might trigger a mass exodus of talent from the company.

Contrastingly, the threat of hundreds of employees leaving the company loomed if Altman were not restored to his position, bringing OpenAI to the brink of collapse.

Further issues were raised regarding Altman’s dominion over OpenAI’s investment fund for startups, with critiques from some members about it sidestepping the accountability expected within OpenAI’s non-profit governance framework.

Initiated in late 2021, this fund focuses on investments in AI startups and carries the OpenAI name. However, it is legally possessed by Sam Altman. OpenAI asserts that this arrangement is merely a stopgap measure designed to swiftly operationalize the fund.

Until recent revelations, Altman’s removal seemed to be an isolated action undertaken by the board, primarily sparked by a controversy over a research paper. This paper, co-authored by board member Helen Toner, lauded the AI safety methodologies of Anthropic, a rival of OpenAI while casting OpenAI in a less favorable light.