Breaking news reports that Sam Altman is set to reclaim his position as CEO of OpenAI after a tumultuous period marked by a boardroom struggle. The shift in leadership had plunged the organization into disarray in recent days. Emphasizing the resolution of the conflict, former president Greg Brockman, who had resigned in opposition to Altman's earlier dismissal, is also set to make a return.
OpenAI announced late Tuesday that they've reached a tentative agreement for Altman to return, along with establishing a new board. This board is set to include Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo, with D'Angelo being the continuing member from the previous board that had ousted Altman initially. This decision is designed to provide continuity and retain prior board representation within the new structure.
Sources close to the matter indicate that this interim board's prime responsibility is to screen and appoint a fuller, more permanent board comprising up to nine members. Among the future board members, tech giant Microsoft, a significant OpenAI investor, is expected to seek representation, as evidenced by comments from CEO Satya Nadella, aiming to avoid further unexpected developments.
Both sides have reportedly agreed to an independent investigation of the turbulent events, likely to be conducted by an external law firm. While details are sparse, this move suggests that the power struggle which has become quite public may still have underlying tensions yet to be addressed.
Amidst the unfolding story, all involved parties have signalled that Altman's return is largely settled aside from finalizing some last paperwork. Altman expressed his actions over the last few days were dedicated to preserving the team and its mission. Thrive Capital, another major backer, has endorsed the reinstatement, suggesting it is in the best interest for the company and its wide-ranging influence.
In a more subdued response, Helen Toner, a pivotal board figure in the initial decision to fire Altman, commented on the resolution with a brief note on the need for rest following the high drama. Altman's reinstatement has been surprisingly swift, considering the apparent determination of the nonprofit board to avoid his return, marking a significant reversal in the organization's governance.
Complicating matters, OpenAI employees had reportedly shown solidarity with Altman and Brockman during the crisis, potentially considering a move to Microsoft should the board not change course. Amid the upheaval, board members opposed to Altman refrained from disclosing their detailed reasons for his firing despite the looming threat of legal action from investors.
The recent flip of Ilya Sutskever, a key board member, from opposing to supporting Altman further weakened the stand of the remaining board members against him. Interim CEO Emmett Shear, who temporarily held the reins, had also demanded justification for Altman's dismissal, potentially exacerbating the board's predicament. Following the announcement of Altman's return, Shear remarked on being part of a solution that respected all stakeholders, hinting at an amicable resolution.
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