Sam Altman
Sam Altman says his iPhone stopped working because he was flooded with messages from people who wanted to work with him after he was ousted as OpenAI CEO. Wikimedia Commons

Sam Altman has opened up about his initial reaction after the OpenAI board removed him from the CEO position.

During a podcast with Trevor Noah, Altman said he got so many messages after his unexpected firing from OpenAI that his iPhone stopped working.

"My phone was just like unusable because it was just notifications nonstop," Altman noted. "iMessage did this thing where it stopped working for a while, then messages got delivered late, then it marked everything as read," he added.

Altman said President of OpenAI Greg Brockman and a slew of other high-profile employees quit the company after his shock firing. Aside from this, he started getting messages from people who wanted to come and work with him.

Sam Altman's reaction after being fired by OpenAI's board

Talking about his reaction after the OpenAI board fired him, Altman told Noah that he was confused. "It was chaotic," he said. Understandably, the news didn't immediately feel real.

Altman said he was "obviously upset" by the AI company's decision but the confusion was his "dominant emotion".

Notably, details about why Altman was fired from his role are still scarce. In fact, former OpenAI director Reid Hoffman recently admitted that he still has no idea why the company's board ousted Altman as CEO.

The board, on the other hand, accused Altman of being less than "candid" in his communications. This controversial decision led to a series of chaotic events, including some OpenAI employees threatening to quit unless the board reversed its decision.

Although Altman said he was initially reluctant about returning to OpenAI as CEO, he was eventually reinstated and the board was largely replaced. Despite these controversies, it looks like this year belongs to Altman, who was recently chosen CEO of the year by Time Magazine.

Sam Altman is Time Magazine's 2023 CEO of The Year

In its latest feature, Time Magazine pointed out that ChatGPT and GPT-4's impact was transformative not only for OpenAI but for the world. "For many people, 2023 was the year that they started taking AI seriously," Altman told Time on November 30.

Initially launched as a nonprofit research lab that would build AI for humanity, OpenAI went on to become an $80 billion (about £64.2 billion) entity. This year, Altman also emerged as one of the most powerful executives in the world.

Altman believes building superintelligence will turn out to be a "society-wide project". "We would like to be one of the shapers, but it's not going to be something that one company just does. It will be far bigger than any one company," he told Time.

Meanwhile, business magnate Bill Gates gave Altman a shout-out in his latest LinkedIn post. Sharing a link to the Time feature, Gates noted that Altman is at the forefront of the AI revolution and is inspiring new business leaders.