OpenAI may be looking to bring back Sam Altman post sudden ouster: Reports

OpenAI’s former CEO Sam Altman was fired by the board on Friday, setting off a series of events at the ChatGPT maker

Updated - November 20, 2023 12:28 pm IST

Published - November 20, 2023 11:11 am IST

No official statements have been issued yet regarding Altman’s possible return [File]

No official statements have been issued yet regarding Altman’s possible return [File] | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Within days of firing CEO Sam Altman over a lack of “candor in his communications,” OpenAI’s board is reportedly negotiating to bring him back to the company.

Altman posted a selfie on Monday, wearing an OpenAI guest badge and captioned the picture, saying this was the “first and last time” he would ever wear that badge.

No official statements have been issued regarding Altman’s possible return, or what kind of role he will play in the company even if he does so. However, Altman may be looking to obtain a statement that absolves him of any wrong-doing and firing the existing OpenAI board, per a Bloomberg report.

The composition of the new board is reportedly the main point of contention. One of the mediators in this negotiation could be Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Bloomberg added.

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OpenAI announced on Friday that Altman would depart as CEO and leave the board of directors, to be replaced by the company’s Chief Technology Officer, Mira Murati, as interim CEO.

According to OpenAI Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap, Altman had been fired due to a communication breakdown between him and the board, rather than any issue relating to safety or any malicious acts, Reuters reported.

OpenAI’s co-founder and former President Greg Brockman also shared a note on X over the weekend, saying that he was quitting after learning of Altman being fired.

In response to an X post made about a day ago where Altman expressed his love for the OpenAI team, company employees re-shared it with hearts and other emojis or positive comments. Tech outlet The Verge reported this could be the employees’ way of telling the board they would follow Altman out.

The AI startup’s board now consists of chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, Quora founder Adam D’Angelo, tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Director of Strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Helen Toner.

OpenAI began as a non-profit company, which is now backed by Microsoft with an investment of $10 billion. The AI firm is valued at $90 billion. Microsoft is using OpenAI’s tech to revitalise its own Bing search engine and create more AI products.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was an early investor in the company behind ChatGPT but left in 2018. He has criticised OpenAI’s operations a number of times, claiming it is controlled by Microsoft. Musk is the head of a rival AI firm, xAI, which launched an AI chatbot this year, called Grok.

Altman is also a key figure in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector. His crypto project, Worldcoin, is aimed at giving cryptocurrency in exchange for iris scans.

The price of the Worldcoin crypto token fell by more than 12% after Altman’s firing was made public. It then spiked by 25.02% in the past day to reach a price of $2.39 as rumours spread of his return and the OpenAI’s board’s chaos.

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