OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during the OpenAI DevDay event on November 06, 2023 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Sam Altman will return as CEO of OpenAI, the startup said early Wednesday morning on X, formerly known as Twitter. This move comes after tremendous pressure from employees and investors on the board of directors Deposed He had it less than a week ago.
Former Salesforce co-CEO Brett Taylor and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers will join OpenAI’s board of directors, the Microsoft-backed startup said, with Taylor serving as chairman. Adam D’Angelo, co-founder and CEO of question-and-answer startup Quora, will remain on the board.
“We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you very much for your patience during this matter,” OpenAI said in a statement. Share X.
On Monday, hundreds of employees, including co-founder and board member Ilya Sutskever, signed a letter stating that if the board did not resign and reinstate Altman, the overwhelming majority would move on to work with him at Microsoft.
Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman will join Microsoft to form a new AI lab, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an X post on Monday.
This followed the announcement late Sunday that OpenAI had appointed former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as Altman’s interim replacement. Originally, the board said Mira Moratti, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, would take on the role, but she quickly joined the procession of employees clamoring for Altman’s return.
“Thanks to the new board and w satya’s support, I look forward to returning to openai and building on our strong partnership with msft,” Altman wrote in his own post on X.
Nadella praised the changes OpenAI has made to its board of directors Share X.
“We believe this is the first essential step on the path toward more stable, informed and effective governance,” Nadella wrote. “Sam, Greg, and I spoke and agreed that they have a key role to play alongside the OAI leadership team in ensuring that OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission. We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners.”
A quick return for Altman began to look like a possibility on Saturday as news emerged that a group of prominent investors, including Microsoft, Tiger Global, Thrive Capital and Sequoia Capital, had been working to reverse the board’s decision since the previous day. None of these companies had board seats, and the decision was not made known to them.
in Share on X “I love the Opnay team so much,” Altman wrote late Saturday night. Brockman, who resigned from the company after the board removed him as chairman along with Altman’s ouster, returned the comment with a heart emoji. Other OpenAI employees did the same.
OpenAI, which was reportedly in talks last month to sell employee stock to investors at a valuation of $86 billion, has emerged as the hottest startup on the planet this year after launching its Chatbot in late 2022. ChatGPT allows users to enter simple text. queries and retrieve intelligent and creative answers that can lead to more in-depth conversations.
Altman has been leading the company since 2019 and was serving as the company’s top-tier CEO and public face of AI research and product development.
Unlike most Silicon Valley startups, OpenAI is not structured like a typical company with large equity stakes controlled by founders. Rather, it was part of a nonprofit that started in 2015. The board of directors oversees the nonprofit, which “serves as the overall governing body for all OpenAI activities,” according to Friday’s blog post.
Sutskever and Brockman were part of the founding team of OpenAI. Original investors included Altman, LinkedIn co-founder Reed Hoffman, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who reportedly committed $1 billion to the project.
“Back to OpenAI and back to programming tonight,” Brockman wrote early Wednesday. Share X.
Immediately after the OpenAI board announced Altman’s dismissal, prominent investors and founders in Silicon Valley expressed their concerns loudly, even comparing the move to Apple’s decision 38 years ago to fire Steve Jobs. In 1997, Jobs returned and eventually led Apple to create the iPhone and become the most valuable company in the United States.
“What happened at OpenAI today is a boardroom coup the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1985 when Apple’s then-board fired Steve Jobs,” Ron Conway, a longtime startup investor, said at Conference X. mail. “It’s shocking, irresponsible, and not done right by Sam & Greg or all the creators at OpenAI.”
Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, described Altman as “my hero,” who built a company that “changed our collective world forever.” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky called Altman “one of the best founders of his generation.” Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said he is a “once-in-a-generation CEO.”
Nadella, who made a surprise appearance earlier this month at the OpenAI Developers Conference, was reportedly surprised and upset by the announcement. His company has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and is a close technology partner, hosting massive GPT workloads on Azure cloud infrastructure.
“This was the path that maximized safety along with doing the right thing by all stakeholders involved,” Scheer said early Wednesday. Share X. “I’m glad I was part of the solution.”
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