It has been a whirlwind week in the life of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.
Less than a week after his ouster by a board of directors that did not agree with his vision, Altman is back in the CEO role, and the board that fired him is gone.
We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo.
We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you so much for your patience through this.
— OpenAI (@OpenAI) November 22, 2023
The high-profile spat at the center of the world of generative AI goes to the heart of many of the more complex issues surrounding the use of AI.
The former board was a non-profit organization set up to manage OpenAI when the company was founded in 2015.
That non-profit status and the idea of safely monetizing what became ChatGPT were a source of contention between the board and Altman over the last year that ultimately led to the attempted ouster.
Altman was very much for moving to a public model which began the tidal wave of tech money surrounding all things AI.
When Altman was let go, a series of chess moves were made including Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella announcing that Altman and several high-level OpenAI members would join Microsoft to form a new AI division.
This led to an open letter signed by more than 740 of the 770 OpenAI employees threatening to leave the company and join Microsoft which would have effectively spelled the end of the company.
The newly formed board includes one member from the former board, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, and two new members: former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor, and Harvard University president Larry Summers.
Leaving the board will be OpenAI chief scientist and co-founder Ilya Sutskever, tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown University’s Helen Toner.
It remains to be seen if Altman has cleared all roadblocks to his vision for the company, but with a friendlier board in place, his path will be less fraught with barriers.