The OpenAI board is in discussions with Sam Altman to return to CEO, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. One of them said Altman, who was suddenly fired by the board on Friday with no notice, is “ambivalent” about coming back and would want significant governance changes.
Altman holding talks with the company just a day after he was ousted indicates that OpenAI is in a state of free-fall without him. Hours after he was axed, Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president and former board chairman, resigned, and the two have been talking to friends about starting another company. A string of senior researchers also resigned on Friday, and people close to OpenAI say more departures are in the works.
OpenAI’s largest investor, Microsoft, said in a statement shortly after Altman’s firing that the company “remains committed” to its partnership with the AI firm. However, OpenAI’s investors weren’t given advance warning or opportunity to weigh in on the board’s decision to remove Altman. As the face of the company and the most prominent voice in AI, his removal throws the future of OpenAI into uncertainty at a time when rivals are racing to catch up with the unprecedented success of ChatGPT.
OpenAI’s remaining board consists of: OpenAI 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 isn’t tasked with maximizing shareholder value. Its stated mission is to ensure the creation of “broadly beneficial” artificial general intelligence, or AGI.