On Friday, the board of OpenAI, the AI startup behind ChatGPT and other AI-powered viral hits, did something unexpected but apparently good on its inside: it fired the company’s CEO, Sam Altman.
But judging by how things are going, it seems that OpenAI’s investors and partners — and many of its employees — are more comfortable with IDeAS of the power of the board than to exercise this power. And they don’t rely on the cult of personality that surrounds Altman, the former president of Y Combinator and a longtime fixture on the Silicon Valley startup scene.
On Saturday night, more than 24 hours after the OpenAI board announced that Altman would be replaced by Mira Murati, OpenAI’s CTO, on an interim basis, many publications published reports suggesting that the OpenAI board is in talks to return Altman to the helm.
What made them change their minds? Anger and panic, among investors, no doubt – and rank.
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, a major OpenAI partner, is IS reported “angry” to learn of Altman’s departure”MINUTE” after this happened, and contacted Altman – and promised to support him – as supporters of OpenAI recruit Microsoft’s help pressure the board to reverse course. Meanwhile, some of OpenAI’s top venture capital backers are said to be considering a lawsuit against the board; no one, including Khosla Ventures and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, a former OpenAI board member, was given advance notice of the decision to fire Altman.
Microsoft in particular has a lot of leverage. OpenAI received only one FRAGMENT of the company’s recent $10 billion investment, according to Semafor, and a significant portion of the funding is in the form of cloud computing purchases instead of cash. Withholding credits — and remaining investment money — could leave OpenAI, starved of capital as the costs of running and training its AI systems rise, in a financially unsustainable position.
As the board considers its next step, OpenAI’s top AI researchers and executives are calling it quits.
On Friday, Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president and a co-founder, resigned after the board removed him from his position as chair. Three senior OpenAI researchers left after Brockman, including research director Jakub Pachocki and head of preparation Aleksander Madry. And more employees IS reported joining their resignation.
They consider it a power struggle with an unacceptable level of collateral damage between two board members in particular, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo and Sutskever, and Altman. Sutskever said at an all-hands meeting of the company on Friday that he felt Altman’s dismissal was “necessary” to protect OpenAI’s mission to “make AI useful to humanity,” suggesting that commercial ambitions Altman’s for the company began to trouble the kings of the board. (OpenAI’s board is technically part of a nonprofit that oversees OpenAI’s monetization strategy.)
And so, say Altman and Brockman COME Investors about a new business focused on AI-chip and the sale of employee stock in OpenAI face an uncertain future, the board of directors has discomfort about the face of ahead of it. Sutskever and the rest of the board – tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley; and Helen Toner, the director of strategy at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology – may have felt that their decision to fire Altman was right and justified. But it seems that this is not their decision to make.