After a tumultuous week and change, Sam Altman is officially back as OpenAI’s CEO. In a letter circulated internally at OpenAI and published on their blog, Altman announced his return and the formation of a new board of directors, replacing most of the board that had previously attempted to remove him.
Sam Altman has returned as OpenAI’s CEO, leading the company amid a new board of directors. OpenAI aims to focus on advancing research, investing in AI safety, improving governance, and allowing users to shape AI’s development. The recent upheaval highlights the challenges of managing conflicts and aligning visions within organizations at the forefront of AI innovation.
New Board of Directors
The initial new board will consist of Bret Taylor, the former co-CEO of Salesforce; Quora CEO D’Angelo, who served on the previous board; and economist and political veteran Larry Summers. Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, will also have representation on the board in the form of a non-voting observer.
In his letter, Altman outlined the priorities for OpenAI going forward. These include advancing OpenAI’s research plan, further investing in AI safety efforts, building a board of diverse perspectives, improving the governance structure, and conducting an independent review of recent events. Altman emphasized the importance of allowing people to experience the benefits of AI and have a say in shaping its development.
“I’ve never been more excited about the future,” Altman expressed. “I’m extremely grateful for everyone’s hard work in an unclear and unprecedented situation, and I believe our resilience and spirit set us apart in the industry.”
Turbulent Recent Saga
The recent upheaval at OpenAI began when Altman, along with other board members, was abruptly removed without proper notification. This move sparked outrage among Microsoft and other investors, jeopardizing the company’s rumored stock sale and prompting the majority of OpenAI employees to pledge to quit unless Altman was reinstated.
The conflicts between Altman and the previous board reportedly centered around disagreements over OpenAI’s direction. Altman was accused of lacking consistency in his communication with board members, while he had concerns about a paper co-authored by Helen Toner, which critiqued OpenAI’s safety approach. Additionally, Altman’s frustration with the rushed launch of AI-powered features at a developer conference was a point of contention with Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist.
In response to reports of a conflict of interest involving D’Angelo, Altman clarified that the potential conflicts of interest within OpenAI will be managed through full disclosure and board decisions.