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Just jokes as Altman returns to OpenAI

  • Sam Altman has been rehired as CEO of OpenAI after a turbulent few days at the generative AI technology leader.
  • The ousting and then return of Altman has seen the company fire its old board of directors, appointing new heads.
  • Microsoft was seemingly involved with the negotiations as previously Altman was offered a position to lead a new AI research division at the company.

A boardroom coup and attempted mutiny by employees of OpenAI, the leading company in generative artificial intelligence (AI), has now been resolved. On the weekend, the board of directors of OpenAI fired CEO Sam Altman citing concerns that he could not adequately lead the company moving forward.

The ousting of Altman, one of the new, charismatic voices in big tech, sent the company into an open spiral, which was followed by the quitting of company president Greg Brockman and the sending of an open letter by a majority of OpenAI staffers to the board calling for their resignations amid the handling of Altman’s termination.

In the meantime, the board quickly appointed and has now gotten rid of two interim CEOs before folding due to the pressure both internally from employees and externally from investors like Microsoft and has rehired Altman to retake his position as chief executive.

In a two-sentence announcement on X, OpenAI says that Altman has returned and that the company will be moving forward with a new board of directors.

While Adam D’Angelo, one of the directors of Quora, will be returning to the board, OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology’s Helen Toner will no longer be directors at OpenAI.

Instead, D’Angelo will be joined by Bret Taylor, a former Salesforce executive, and former US treasury secretary Larry Summers. Sutskever publically apologised for the firing of Altman. “I will do everything I can to reunite the company,” he said.

Immediately after his ousting from OpenAI, Altman, and Brockman, were hired by Microsoft – one of OpenAI’s largest investors – to pilot the company’s own generative AI-focused research division. It seems this will not be the case moving forward with Altman’s return to OpenAI.

“I love OpenAI, and everything I’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together,” said Altman.

It also seems that Microsoft was somewhat involved in getting Altman back to the ChatGPT creator.

“When I decided to join Microsoft on Sunday evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team,” he added in an X post.

“With the new board and with [Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s] support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.”

“We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board. We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance. Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission,” added Nadella, who was reported to have been “furious” when he heard of Altman’s termination.

OpenAI moves forward into 2024 with a new board of directors then, and the same people in charge. Altman has received an outpouring of support from his staffers and OpenAI followers on social media.

[Image – @Sama on X]

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