Despite talks on Sunday, November 19, to negotiate his reinstatement, Sam Altman will not be returning as OpenAI’s chief executive. This marks the latest twist in a dramatic boardroom showdown in Silicon Valley.
The board’s decision to remove Altman as CEO was based on his lack of full transparency in communications, as stated in the board’s statement, providing a vague explanation for the action. This development had a significant impact in Silicon Valley and government circles, where Altman had become a prominent influencer in shaping AI policy and regulations.
In the unexpected twist of events, OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever has conveyed his “deep regret” for his involvement in the decision to oust Sam Altman.
Following the chief scientist’s remorseful statement, Altman responded with three heart emojis.
This statement comes in the wake of Altman’s removal as OpenAI CEO, accompanied by a weekend of unsuccessful negotiations for his return . The board cited a lack of confidence in Altman’s leadership and noted his inconsistent communication as reason for his removal.
Despite initial talks of Altman’s potential return, the board failed to meet his conditions, leading to the appointment of interim CEO Emmett Shear. Altman and former OpenAI president Greg Brockman will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team.
Sutskever, along with 490 OpenAI employees, signed an open letter demanding Altman’s reinstatement. The letter, released on Monday, November 20, threatened mass resignations unless the board stepped down, accusing them of jeopardizing the company’s mission.
“Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI,” the letter said and added:
“The leadership team suggested that the most stabilizing path forward – the one that would best serve our mission, company, stakeholders, employees and the public — would be for you to resign and put in place a qualified board that could lead the company forward in stability.”
According to well-known internet journalist Kara Swisher, 505 of 700 OpenAI employees told the board to resign and threatened to join Microsoft if their demands were unmet.
The letter emphasizes an inability to collaborate with those lacking competence, judgment, and care for the mission and employees. In addition, the employees advocate for the board to appoint “two new lead independent directors, such as Bret Taylor and Will Hurd,” and to reinstate Altman and former president Greg Brockman.
Be it as it may, Elon Musk has also voiced support for OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever regarding his involvement in the removal of former CEO Sam Altman.
Musk has previously emphasized the need for transparency in the wake of Sam Altman’s removal, underscoring advanced AI’s potential risks and influence. He urged that the public should be informed about the reasons behind the board’s decision to take such significant action.