Several days of chaos at OpenAI started with Sam Altman’s ouster and ended with his re-hiring as OpenAI’s CEO. Sam’s firing caused uproar among the company’s employees, most of whom threatened to quit if the company’s board didn’t reinstate Sam and resign. They got their wish: Sam got his job back, and the board was reconstituted. 

Sam Altman’s father, Jerry Altman, and mother, Connie Gibstine, raised a tight-knit family

Sam Altman was born on April 22, 1985, to Jerry Altman and Connie Gibstine in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up alongside three younger siblings, two brothers, and one sister. Jerry, who died in May 2018 after suffering a heart attack, was a real estate agent, and Connie was a dermatologist. 

The pair raised a tight-knit family: the family had dinner together every night while playing ‘square root’ and guessing games; they played charades, Ping-Pong, video games, and pool; the brothers played water polo; Sam read Annie bedtime stories. 

Sam benefited from the closeness of his Jewish family and the constant encouragement he got from his parents. “One of the very best things my parents did for me was constant (multiple times a day, I think) affirmations of their love and belief that I could do anything,” Altman told Intelligencer. Sam described the Apple Macintosh computer his parents bought him when he was eight as life-changing. 

The brothers are and have always been close. “I think Sam likes having his brothers around because they knew him when, and can give him pushback in ways that other people can’t,” Connie told The New Yorker

Annie, the youngest Altman sibling, told Intelligencer that as she grew up, she grew more detached from her family. She opined that her father’s death, which she blamed on heart issues and stress, widened the chasm between her and her kin. Annie told the outlet that her family kept her inheritance, abandoning her to financial ruin. 

“That was right when I got on the sugar-dating website for the first time,” Annie said. “I was just at such a loss, in such a state of desperation, such a state of confusion and grief.” She described Sam’s decision to fashion diamonds from their father’s ashes as ‘hilarious’ and ‘ridiculous’. 

“You’re willing to spend $5,000 — for each one — to make this thing that was your idea, not Dad’s, and you’re wanting to send that to me instead of sending me $300 so I can have food security. What?” Annie protested. 

Connie said she was surprised when Sam came out as gay

Sam was in high school when he came out as gay. The revelation stunned Connie. “Sam had always struck me as just sort of unisexual and tech-y,” Connie told The New Yorker. Sam came out publicly after a religious group at his private school threatened to boycott a talk during National Coming Out Day.

He announced his sexuality and challenged the institution to promote inclusivity. “Either you have tolerance to open community or you don’t, and you don’t get to pick and choose,” Sam concluded his speech. 

Sam’s college counselor, Madelyn Gray, told The New Yorker that Sam’s bravery changed the school. “It felt like someone had opened up a great big box full of all kinds of kids and let them out into the world,” Gray said.