Microsoft and other big investors in OpenAI are pushing to get Sam Altman reinstated as CEO, reports Bloomberg. Things are still very fluid and after intense negotiations through Saturday, The Verge hears that it has been decided to continue talks today. OpenAI is the artificial intelligence firm behind ChatGPT, DALL-E, and several Microsoft AI-enhanced tools.
On Friday we reported on the shock departure of Mr Altman. He had become the recognizable public face of OpenAI over recent months, and perhaps even a figurehead of the AI industry as a whole. His incredibly sudden departure was precipitated by a decision made by the board of directors.
The reasoning behind the decision to oust Altman was given by the board as due to a lack of confidence in him as CEO. He was also accused of not always being entirely truthful or straightforward in his communications with the board. Various reports framed the removal of Altman as the non-profit faction of OpenAI shedding the driving force(s) behind the commercialization of the company. Hours after Altman was ousted, co-founder and former chair Greg Brockman quit in sympathy with the CEO.
Circling back to the latest developments, Bloomberg says “people with knowledge of the matter” are seeing big investors in OpenAI pressing for the return of Altman. Microsoft with over $10B invested, plus other large contributors to the OpenAI kitty Thrive Capital, and Tiger Global Management apparently want Altman back at the helm.
What might need to happen for Altman to return is for the board to change its view, or for them to step down and be replaced. That might sound extraordinary, but since his removal as CEO a significant throng of developers at the firm have signaled support for him – or his next venture.
Bloomberg says that OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap has been speaking with the board to better understand their earlier decision. Lightcap asserts that Altman wasn’t removed for any wrongdoing, or any financial or safety irregularities under his stewardship. What he thinks has happened was simply “a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board.”
The next few hours look set to be very important for Altman, OpenAI, and the AI industry as a whole. Hopefully, by the end of the day, we will have some resolution.