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Shelly Palmer - Where's Sam?

Sam Altman's playing with his new toys at Microsoft, Emmett Shear's trying to put out fires with a water pistol at OpenAI, and the rest of us are trying to keep score.

You're the detective in a high-tech game of hide-and-seek, sifting through the digital landscape to find Sam Altman.

Welcome to "Where's Sam?" The rules? Who knows? They're making them up as they go along.

First up: Sam Altman becomes our erstwhile hero when the OpenAI board, in a move that came as a shock to everyone uninvolved with the Sturm und Drang going on behind the scenes, cited some vague communication issues and showed Altman the door. In the PR world, "communication issues" is code for "we're not telling you the real story."

Pundits and armchair experts turned the rumor mill up to 11 ("Sam's going to be rehired at OpenAI." "He's going to start his own thing?") and then spiced things up with some truly awful tweets about his siblings. The weekend was heavy on opinions and light on facts.

Here's what we know as of this morning. (Clearly, it's all subject to change.)

Sam and Greg have landed at Microsoft, and they will do whatever Satya needs them to do. Meanwhile, at OpenAI, former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear has been named interim CEO, and he (the company’s third CEO in 48 hours) has a plan. According to his tweet, he'll hire investigators, chat up everyone who's anyone, and reshuffle the leadership deck… because nothing says "stable company" like investigations and a management shake-up.

Where does this leave us? Altman's playing with his new toys at Microsoft, Shear's trying to put out fires with a water pistol at OpenAI, and the rest of us are trying to keep score. It's like watching a bad soap opera, but with less believable plot twists.

In all seriousness, there was one part of Shear's announcement that caught my attention: "Before I took the job, I checked on the reasoning behind the change. The board did *not* remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that. I'm not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercializing our awesome models."

All of this may not matter, though, because this morning nearly 500 (of approximately 700) OpenAI employees signed a letter saying they may quit and join Sam Altman at Microsoft unless the startup’s board resigns and reappoints the ousted CEO.

There's no point in speculating; we'll just have to keep watching. But with content like this… who could avert their eyes? -s

P.S. If you want to go deeper into the world of generative AI, sign up for our free online course Generative AI for Execs. It will help jumpstart your AI journey.



Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit

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