Home News Sam Altman Returns To OpenAI, New Board Members Named

Sam Altman Returns To OpenAI, New Board Members Named

OpenAI brings back Sam Altman as CEO after pressure from investors and employees.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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Fierce lobbying from investors, coupled with the threat of a walkout from employees, has brought OpenAI's boardroom saga to an end with the reinstatement of Sam Altman as CEO and the naming of three new board members, reports Bloomberg. [1]

The new board will include former Salesforce CEO and Twitter director, Bret Taylor, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and existing board member, the co-founder and CEO of Q&A platform Quora Adam D’Angelo. Taylor will chair the initial board.

Hours ago, both Altman and Brockman posted that they were returning to OpenAI.

On Friday, Sam Altman was abruptly fired from OpenAI in a move that blindsided investors and employees. A blog post by OpenAI attributed his removal to not being candid with the board, which it said hindered it from being able to carry out its duties. The news was followed by a string of resignations and intense lobbying by investors to bring him back. Following his ouster and pressure from investors to bring him back, OpenAI announced on Sunday an impasse in negotiations and named a new interim CEO -- the second in days.

Also on Sunday, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella -- one of OpenAI’s biggest backers -- posted that Altman and former OpenAI president Greg Brockman would lead an advanced research lab at Microsoft. Nadella reassured OpenAI that the tech giant is confident about the future of the company and “remains committed” to its partnership with the AI startup.

On Monday, 500 of the company’s 770 employees threatened to defect and join Microsoft if the board didn’t resign and reinstate Altman.

So What Happened at OpenAI?

Although the board has remained tight-lipped about the reasons for removing Altman, insiders tell Bloomberg that Altman, who has been the face of OpenAI, “repeatedly clashed” with members of the board -- particularly chief scientist Ilya Sutskever -- over the pace at which generative AI was being developed and commercialized. Sutskever, who was tasked with informing Altman of his removal, posted his regrets about his involvement in Altman’s firing on Sunday.

Earlier this year, Altman testified in front of members of a Senate sub-committee, where he spoke about the need to regulate AI.

On Sunday, OpenAI’s board approached the CEO of its biggest rival, Anthropic, about a potential position to head up the company and a merger between the startups – an offer that Anthropic CEO declined. Executives at Anthropic, which is backed by Alphabet and Amazon, were previously part of OpenAI before breaking off in 2020 to form the new company over alleged disagreements over the safe development and governance of AI. [2]

Founded in 2015 as a non-profit to develop safe and beneficial AI, OpenAI formed a for-profit subsidiary in 2019, which has allowed it to receive billions of dollars of investment from Microsoft, as well as significant investments from Thrive Capital, Sequoia Capital, and Tiger Global Management. Within the new structure, the board’s independent directors get a final say in the for-profit business.

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