OpenAI Board Engages in Talks with Sam Altman for Potential Return as CEO

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The OpenAI board is reportedly in talks with Sam Altman to potentially reinstate him as the CEO of the company, according to sources familiar with the matter. Altman, who was unexpectedly dismissed by the board without prior notice, is said to be “ambivalent” about returning and would likely demand significant governance changes. The board had apparently agreed in principle to resign and allow Altman and Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president and former board chairman, to return. However, uncertainties arose, missing a crucial 5 PM PT deadline, leading to potential resignations of numerous OpenAI staffers if Altman decides to depart and start a new venture.

Altman’s swift discussions for a potential return underscore the apparent instability within OpenAI following his abrupt dismissal. Brockman, who resigned shortly after Altman’s departure, has been engaging with friends and investors about the prospect of launching a new company. The aftermath of Altman’s firing saw a wave of resignations from senior researchers, with indications suggesting more departures are on the horizon.

Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest investor, expressed commitment to its partnership with the AI firm but admitted to not being informed or given the opportunity to weigh in on the board’s decision to remove Altman. Altman’s removal, given his prominent role as the face of the company and a leading voice in AI, has cast uncertainty over OpenAI’s future, particularly at a time when competitors are rapidly advancing to compete with ChatGPT.

The current OpenAI board comprises chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, former GeoSim Systems CEO Tasha McCauley, and Helen Toner, the director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. Unlike traditional companies, the board’s mission goes beyond shareholder value, aiming to ensure the creation of “broadly beneficial” artificial general intelligence (AGI). Notably, Sutskever, a co-founder of OpenAI and leader of its researchers, played a pivotal role in Altman’s ousting, indicating a potential power struggle between the research and product facets of the company. The situation remains dynamic, and as of now, OpenAI has not responded to inquiries about Altman’s discussions for a potential return. Microsoft declined to comment on the matter.