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Sam Altman’s ouster draws parallels with ‘Apple fired Steve Jobs’ decades ago

OpenAI founder Sam Altman was recently fired from his position as the Chief Executive Officer of the artificial intelligence company after a review found that he was ‘not consistently candid in his communications’ with the board of directors.

This announcement has shocked many people across the world as played a crucial role in the creation of ChatGPT, an AI language tool that kicked off an artificial intelligence race among tech leaders.

Altman’s ouster has pushed many to draw parallels between what happened with Apple and its founder Steve Jobs about four decades ago, and what happened with the OpenAI’s co-founder.

Bloomberg writer, Ashlee Vance on X (formerly Twitter) wrote, “This is like Apple firing Steve Jobs only they’re doing it after the iPhone has become the best-selling computer in history.”

“Pride myself on some tech history knowledge but am struggling to come up with a comp here. Elon got couped, but PayPal was no OpenAI,” he further said.

Steve Jobs vs Sam Altman: The Parallels with Job Firing 

In 1985, Steve Jobs was famously fired from Apple after a power struggle with the company’s board of directors. After revolutionizing personal computing and establishing a legendary brand, Jobs was ejected from the company he helped grow into a billion-dollar behemoth.

Initially, speculations had stated that Jobs’ confrontational management style and poor interpersonal skills were the reasons behind his dismissal.

However, William Simon, co-author of “iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business” asserted that Jobs “demanded so much from the people who worked for him”. “He was great, but drove people too hard,” he said as quoted by Business Today. 

Later, Steve Jobs admitted that he was acting “out of control” at the time. He then started NeXT Computer after leaving Apple, and the company was later acquired by Apple itself. 

In 1997, Jobs rejoined the company as CEO. During his second tenure at Apple, Jobs took the company to new heights and achieved the greatest corporate success in history. In 2011, Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple Inc. and passed the reins to his right-hand man Tim Cook, saying he could no longer fulfill the duties in a bombshell announcement that raised fears his health had deteriorated further. He fought and survived a rare form of pancreatic cancer. 

On the other hand, Sam Altman’s ouster was due to a lack of consistent communication and a loss of confidence in his leadership. In both cases, the board of directors decided to split the business from their respective CEOs. However, the specific reason surrounding the dismissals remains secret. 

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Updated: 18 Nov 2023, 01:54 PM IST


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