In a stunning turn of events, OpenAI has announced that co-founder and recently ousted CEO, Sam Altman, is poised to make a comeback as the company’s leader. The tech industry has been captivated by the dramatic corporate upheaval at OpenAI in recent days, and this latest development has sent shockwaves through the tech community.
OpenAI made the announcement on Tuesday, revealing that an agreement “in principle” had been reached for Altman to return as CEO. This news comes after days of intense negotiations between Altman, the board of directors that removed him from his position, and the interim CEO, Emmett Shear.
The proposed agreement includes the appointment of a new “initial” board of directors, with key figures such as former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor as chair, former US Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo. Greg Brockman, another OpenAI co-founder who had resigned in protest following Altman’s removal, is also set to regain his position.
Notably, the proposed all-male board appears to remove three directors who played a role in Altman’s removal: OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, Helen Toner of Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and entrepreneur Tasha McCauley.
The Verge reported that the initial board, under the proposed agreement, will appoint a new board of up to nine members to reshape OpenAI’s corporate governance. It remains unclear whether Altman himself will have a seat on the board.
Kelly Sims, a partner at Thrive Capital and a major OpenAI investor who supported Altman’s negotiations, issued a statement welcoming Altman’s return. Sims praised Altman and Brockman for their commitment to the company’s integrity and their leadership qualities.
The saga began when Altman was removed from his CEO position last Friday by the board, citing a lack of consistent candor in his communications with the board as the reason. This decision led to a series of extraordinary events, including Altman briefly considering joining Microsoft before reopening negotiations with OpenAI.
On Monday, hundreds of OpenAI staff members signed a letter threatening to quit the company in protest over the board’s handling of Altman’s removal. The letter gained the support of over 95 percent of the company’s employees.
Ilya Sutskever, who had initially been involved in the decision to oust Altman, publicly expressed regret over his participation in the board’s actions and vowed to work towards reuniting the company. This sentiment was ultimately realized with Altman’s imminent return as CEO.
The tech industry remains abuzz with speculation about the underlying reasons behind Altman’s dismissal and the intricate corporate intrigue that has unfolded. OpenAI’s future direction and its commitment to its mission of ensuring powerful AI benefits humanity will undoubtedly continue to be a topic of intense interest and scrutiny in the coming days and weeks.