from the now-who's-the-boss? dept.
On Friday afternoon, not long after news of CEO Sam Altman's abrupt and surprising departure from OpenAI began spreading online, the company held an all-hands meeting at its headquarters in San Francisco, reports The Information. During the meeting, interim CEO Mira Murati attempted to reassure the shocked employees that the search for a new CEO is underway.
Hours later, OpenAI co-founder and president Greg Brockman posted a statement on X, saying that after he learned today's news he sent a message to the OpenAI team: "based on todays news, i quit." Brockman, a key technical figure involved in many of the company's successes, was relieved of his OpenAI board membership on Friday, but the company initially announced he would be staying on.
Earlier on Friday, OpenAI released a blog post titled "OpenAI announces leadership transition" where it announced that Atlman "was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities." In a response post on X, Altman wrote, "I loved my time at openai," and hinted at future plans without revealing any details.
OpenAI co-founder and head of research Ilya Sutskever may have led the "coup". Other board members involved in the removal include Adam D'Angelo (Quora CEO), Tasha McCauley (RAND Corporation), and Helen Toner (Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technology).
On the other hand . . .
Just over a day since his surprise firing that sent shock waves through the tech industry, the OpenAI board is reportedly engaging in discussions with Sam Altman to potentially return as CEO of the company, according to The Verge, citing people familiar with the matter. The outlet says that Altman is "ambivalent" about returning and would want significant changes to how the company is run.
The move would be a dramatic about-face for the board, which has faced intense scrutiny from all corners of the tech world for abruptly and surprisingly firing one of the tech industry's most high-profile CEOs. Altman was popular with both Microsoft leadership and OpenAI staff, and his firing came as a shock to employees, who reportedly pushed back against OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever's handling of the move during an all-hands meeting on Friday. The overtures toward Altman suggest that the board may have been surprised by the sizable reaction from the world at large.
[...] If Altman were to return to OpenAI, we do not yet know what that would mean for Sutskever's position at the company, or if others like Brockman and the three senior OpenAI researchers who also resigned would return with Altman as well.
"The best case for the board is that Sam and Greg come back, the 4 board members resign, and lay low for a long while," speculated venture capitalist Will Hubbard on X. "The worst case for the board is that Sam and Greg start another company, take all OpenAI's talent and future funding, and have a lawsuit brought against them." No plans for a lawsuit have been announced.