For most of his life, Sam Altman has resembled an accelerating train. He founded a startup as a teenager, achieved middling success — and then jumped to running Silicon Valley’s premier startup accelerator. After that, Altman co-founded OpenAI, whose ChatGPT tool has whipped up a frenzy of excitement about generative AI.

Now 38, Altman has become the face of an AI-fueled future, traveling around the world to explain to world leaders and everyone else how the technology he’d helped create would change everything about human existence. He was the most Silicon Valley person alive.

Then, on Friday, he was fired.