Discussions Underway for Sam Altman’s Potential Return as OpenAI CEO, Reports The Verge

The APEC CEO Summit at Moscone West in San Francisco, California, on November 16, 2023, featured Sam Altman. Captured in a photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
The APEC CEO Summit at Moscone West in San Francisco, California, on November 16, 2023, featured Sam Altman. Captured in a photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Recent developments suggest that the OpenAI board is currently engaged in talks with Sam Altman regarding his potential return as the company’s CEO. This information comes from sources familiar with the matter, one of whom revealed that Altman, who was unexpectedly dismissed by the board without prior notice, is contemplating a return but with a desire for significant governance changes.

Sources close to Altman indicate that there was an initial agreement for the board to resign, paving the way for Altman and Brockman’s return. However, this agreement seems to be wavering, missing a crucial 5 PM PT deadline that could lead to the resignation of many OpenAI staffers. Should Altman choose to embark on a new venture, it is likely that these staffers would follow him.

What happened after Sam Altman’s dismissal?

Altman’s swift engagement with the company, just a day after his dismissal, suggests a state of uncertainty within OpenAI in his absence. Following his removal, Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president and former board chairman, resigned, sparking discussions with friends and investors about the possibility of starting a new company. Several senior researchers also resigned on the same day, with indications of more departures in the pipeline.

While OpenAI’s largest investor, Microsoft, expressed commitment to its partnership with the AI firm, the abrupt nature of Altman’s removal without prior consultation with investors raises questions about the company’s future. Altman’s departure, as a key figure and leading voice in AI, adds an element of uncertainty to OpenAI’s trajectory at a time when competitors are striving to keep pace with the remarkable advancements of technologies like ChatGPT.

Notably, OpenAI’s current board, comprising 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, operates differently from traditional company boards. Their mission is not solely focused on maximizing shareholder value; instead, they aim to ensure the development of “broadly beneficial” artificial general intelligence (AGI).

Sutskever, a co-founder of OpenAI and leader of its researchers, played a significant role in Altman’s ousting, indicating a potential power struggle between the research and product facets of the company, according to multiple sources.

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