Former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in Talks to Return Amidst Controversy: Investors and Employees React
Former OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman, is reportedly in talks to return to the company, discussing governance improvements and the possibility of starting a new AI company. Investors are considering damage control measures amid concerns about a talent exodus without Altman's leadership.
Sam Altman, the former CEO of OpenAI, is reportedly in talks to return to the company despite his recent firing. Altman, known as a prominent figure in generative AI, is discussing potential improvements to OpenAI's governance structure. Additionally, he is exploring the possibility of starting a new AI company with some core OpenAI researchers and other loyal individuals. The situation is currently uncertain, and investors, including major supporter Microsoft, are considering damage control measures and potentially urging the board to reinstate Altman due to concerns about a talent exodus without his leadership.
A Short History of OpenAI— Chamath Palihapitiya (@chamath) November 20, 2023
On Friday, OpenAI ousted its co-founder Sam Altman as CEO. While OpenAI cites a lack of consistent candor in Altman’s dealings with the board as the key reason for his removal, there is widespread speculation about other motives behind his termination.… pic.twitter.com/fHm14ZLEx9
Altman's departure from OpenAI came after a review process by the board, which concluded that he lacked consistent candor in his communications, hindering the board's ability to fulfill its responsibilities. OpenAI's board no longer has confidence in Altman's leadership and has appointed Mira Murati, the company's Chief Technology Officer, as interim CEO. However, a search for a permanent CEO will be conducted. Altman took to social media, expressing mixed emotions about his experience. He described the day as a weird experience and compared it to reading his own eulogy while still alive. Altman also posted a cryptic tweet regarding his shares in the company, suggesting potential consequences if he were to go against the board's decisions.
The news of Altman's potential return has sparked strong reactions from current and former employees. Many are upset by his dismissal and concerned about the impact on an upcoming $86 billion share sale. However, some employees are contemplating leaving if Altman is not reinstated, while others are supportive of joining him in starting a new company. OpenAI, a non-profit organization co-founded by Elon Musk, gained significant attention with the launch of its ChatGPT bot. This generative AI technology quickly became the world's fastest-growing software application, leading to investments and collaborations across various industries. Regulators also responded by revising AI regulations, such as the European Union's AI Act and the US's efforts in AI regulation.
It remains to be seen whether Altman will indeed return to OpenAI or pursue a new venture. Former OpenAI president Greg Brockman, who left the company over Altman's firing, is expected to join any new endeavor. However, some researchers and employees have already quit OpenAI due to the leadership change, and their involvement in Altman's plans is uncertain. Altman has previously been linked to discussions about building an AI hardware device with former Apple design chief Jony Ive, with involvement from SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son.
Altman's firing from OpenAI is attributed to a breakdown in communication rather than any wrongdoing, according to an internal company memo. Discussions about Altman potentially returning as CEO have been reported by various sources, including Forbes. The situation surrounding Altman and OpenAI is fluid, with potential implications for the future of the company and the wider AI industry.