OpenAI is reportedly in negotiations to reinstate Sam Altman as CEO, just a day after his abrupt dismissal. Last Friday, OpenAI shocked the tech world with a statement announcing Altman’s termination, citing a loss of confidence by the board.
The details surrounding the dismissal are as surprising as the decision itself. Greg Brockman, co-founder and president of OpenAI, resigned following Altman’s ousting and later detailed the events on X. Altman was unexpectedly invited to a call by Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s Chief Scientist, only to find the entire board, except for Brockman, present to inform him of his termination. Brockman himself was later removed from the board in a subsequent call but was asked to remain as president.
The executive team at OpenAI, with the exception of Mira Murati, who had been informed the previous night and temporarily took over as CEO, was reportedly unaware of the decision to dismiss Altman. Over the weekend, Altman and Brockman considered starting another AI-focused startup.
The rapid move to negotiate Altman’s return suggests a crisis within OpenAI. Reports from The Verge indicate that the board had initially agreed to resign to enable Altman’s comeback as CEO, but this plan did not materialize. Jason Kwon, OpenAI’s Director of Strategy, expressed optimism about Altman’s return in an email, as reported by The Information.
The push for Altman’s reinstatement is gaining momentum. According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft, OpenAI’s main investor, and Thrive Capital, the second-largest shareholder, are involved in efforts to restore Altman’s position. Forbes reports that other significant investors are collaborating with Microsoft and senior employees to achieve this through internal revolts, legal actions, and by restricting access to Microsoft’s cloud resources, which are vital for OpenAI’s operations.
Many OpenAI employees have expressed their discontent with the situation, threatening to resign if Altman is not reinstated. They have been actively sharing a message from Altman, showing their support and appreciation for his leadership. Murati has also joined this public display of support.
A key figure in Altman’s potential return could be Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, who, as per Bloomberg, is “furious” about the dismissal and prefers stable strategic partners over such abrupt and unplanned moves.