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Sam Altman Returns as OpenAI CEO, Now With Fewer Women

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Sam Altman was reinstated as OpenAI’s Chief Executive Officer late on Tuesday night. The board that fired Sam Altman due to a lack of confidence, just four days ago, was largely replaced with profiteering veterans Larry Summers and Bret Taylor. Co-founder Greg Brockman will return to OpenAI, minus his board seat, as well.

“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,” said Sam Altman on X Tuesday night. “With the new board and w Satya’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with MSFT.”

After a harrowing weekend, in which nearly the entire 750-person staff of OpenAI threatened to quit, Altman and Greg Brockman are now back at the world’s leading artificial intelligence company. OpenAI’s board of directors now features Larry Summers, a former US Treasury Secretary and board member at Jack Dorsey’s Block, as well as Bret Taylor, the co-creator of Google Maps who has had tenures at Facebook and Salesforce and served on boards at Spotify and Twitter. The new team undoubtedly represents Altman’s interests in advancing OpenAI’s economic interests and fighting policy in Washington.

As for the old board, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo will retain his position in order to represent the views of the old board, reports The Verge. Helen Toner, Tasha McCauley, and OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sustkever have been relieved of their board duties. It’s unclear what capacity these board members will serve at OpenAI at this moment, but Sutskever is expected to stay given his previous statement to reunite the company. The fact that all of the women who served on the board have been replaced will certainly be noticed and all we know is that the New York Times reports members worried if they all resigned it “would suggest the board erred even though they collectively felt they did the right thing.”

“We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on X Tuesday night. “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 still don’t know what went into the firing of Sam Altman, and caused the board to lose confidence in its CEO, going as far as to call him “inconsistently candid.” All that’s certain is there was some kind of power struggle between OpenAI’s CEO and its board members. Both sides of this internal conflict have agreed to an internal investigation into the ousting of OpenAI’s power structure, according to The Information.

According to The New York Times, Altman tried to have Helen Toner removed from the board in the weeks before his firing because he was angered by an academic paper she wrote that directly criticized OpenAI over safety concerns while praising Anthropic’s practices.

Infamous economist and new OpenAI board member Larry Summers will likely be responsible for recruiting a fuller board and sorting out the company’s governance, according to Bloomberg, which could include a seat for Microsoft. His Wall Street relationships don’t bode well for the non-profit goals of OpenAI, but his Washington ties could help the company navigate policy from the Biden administration.

As for interim CEO Emmett Shear, it seems his services will no longer be needed, given the fact that OpenAI’s staff responded to the announcement of a new CEO with a collective “fuck you” emoji on Slack.

Multiple OpenAI employees took to X to say, “We’re so back.” Those included Greg Brockman, who told X how back OpenAI was with a picture of OpenAI’s staff altogether.

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