Skip to content

Why are OpenAI employees willing to walk out with their CEO?

Yesterday, Sam Altman was reinstated as CEO of OpenAI, closing a chapter of an embarrassing saga for OpenAI and their board of directors. The primary lesson to be taken away from this saga is that culture matters and that a clear and universally understood mission statement is imperative for company wellbeing.

Have you ever heard of 95% of a company's employees ready to quit over the dismissal of their leader? It's pretty rare, right? Usually, firing a CEO is a boardroom drama that doesn’t ripple far into the ranks. If you weren’t tracking the whiplash headlines this week, here’s one of the most surprising tidbits in the drama: Almost the entire OpenAI team was ready to walk out the door with their CEO, Sam Altman. It wasn’t just that Sam Altman was an admired leader; it's more about how he embedded OpenAI's mission deep into the company’s DNA.

Maybe you remember when OpenAI shifted from a non-profit to a profit-capped entity back in 2018. That change sparked a clash of visions between Altman and the Board. Altman wasn't just running a company; he was nurturing a culture. By bringing in and supporting top-notch talent, he built a trust and loyalty fortress around his vision for a profit-driven OpenAI. Yet, this very approach put him at odds with the board.

Why does this matter to you? Because it's a classic example of the power of a compelling mission statement, transparency, and a strong company culture.


Blog comments