Ending nearly a week of drama and ‘techtainment’, formerly ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is shedding the ‘former CEO’ title and returning back to OpenAI as — well — CEO. And ofcourse as one would expect, Altman is coming onboard with an entirely new board. The previous board, which also had OpenAI cofounder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, and has been under intense scrutiny ever since Altman’s departure was announced, will be dissolved.
The new board comprises of former Salesforce co-chief executive Bret Taylor, who is accompanied by former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, and Quora founder Adam D’Angelo. Taylor will serve as the chair of the board.
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
It is amply clear that Microsoft — specially CEO Satya Nadella — has had massive role to play in OpenAI coming to this conclusion. It must be noted that Microsoft — which owns 49% of OpenAI — was apparently blind-sided by the then OpenAI board about their decision to oust Altman. Microsoft has invested nearly $11Bn in the hottest AI company in the world, and reportedly has a big role in pushing the former board, out of the company.
Sam Altman’s statement post OpenAI’s announcement, pretty much gives enough hints on Satya Nadella’s role, “I love OpenAI, and everything I’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together. when I decided to join Microsoft on Sunday evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. With the new board and with Satya’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.”
Days after two of OpenAI cofounders — Greg Brockman and Sam Altman — left the company, Satya Nadella announced hiring them both to head a new internal AI division. Now whether that was a definitive move and whether that did result in setting up of an AI division — time will tell. But the move surely pushed Nadella’s agenda of getting Altman back into the driving seat at OpenAI. On top of that, nearly 500 of OpenAI employees threatened mass resignations, if Altman wasn’t brought back as CEO.
Satya Nadella, in a statement post OpenAI’s announcement, said, “We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board. We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance. Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission. We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners.”