After a tumultuous upheaval that saw Sam Altman ousted from his role as CEO of OpenAI, the tech luminary has officially reclaimed the position. The company announced the completion of a deal cementing Altman’s return, following an earlier announcement just before Thanksgiving hinting at a potential agreement. Alongside Altman’s reinstatement, Microsoft secures a non-voting observer seat on OpenAI’s nonprofit board, as declared by the company on Wednesday.
Looking forward to the Future
Expressing his enthusiasm for the future, Sam Altman conveyed in a memo shared with The Verge, “I have never been more excited about the future. I am extremely grateful for everyone’s hard work in an unclear and unprecedented situation, and I believe our resilience and spirit set us apart in the industry. I feel so, so good about our probability of success for achieving our mission.”
With the departure of three of the four board members involved in Altman’s abrupt dismissal, the revamped OpenAI board now comprises Chair Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo, the solitary holdover from the previous board.
Internal Operations at OpenAI
The inclusion of Microsoft as a “non-voting observer” on the board signifies the tech giant’s heightened visibility into OpenAI’s internal operations, albeit lacking an official vote in pivotal decisions. Microsoft holds a substantial stake of 49 percent in the for-profit arm overseen by the nonprofit board but had previously lacked insight into its workings. Altman’s unexpected removal had threatened the partnership between the entities, underscoring the significance of Microsoft gaining a window into the board’s activities.
While a Microsoft spokesperson declined to specify the individual occupying the observer seat, Altman extended goodwill towards Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s co-founder and chief scientist. Initially involved in the board’s reshuffle, Sutskever retracted his support after the majority of the company’s employees signaled their intention to resign if Altman was not reinstated. Altman affirmed, “While Ilya will no longer serve on the board, we hope to continue our working relationship and are discussing how he can continue his work at OpenAI.”
Underscoring the resilience displayed during the turbulent period, Sam Altman reassured employees, stating, “The fact that we did not lose a single customer will drive us to work even harder for you.”
The reinstatement of Sam Altman as CEO marks a pivotal moment for OpenAI, signaling stability after a period of uncertainty while fostering a potentially stronger collaboration with Microsoft.