- Microsoft, Tiger Global, Thrive Capital, and Sequoia Capital are among OpenAI’s top investors who are allegedly actively trying to reinstate Altman as CEO
- News of his dismissal caught Silicon Valley by surprise, as Altman had been hailed as a pioneer and one of the leading figures in the high-stakes world of AI
Multiple OpenAI investors, including Microsoft, are pushing to bring Sam Altman back as CEO after he was sensationally fired for a ‘lack of communication’ with its board.
The tech company, which created artificial intelligence behemoth ChatGPT last year, fired Altman on Friday for not being ‘consistently candid’ with the company’s board.
Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati will serve as interim CEO.
Microsoft, Tiger Global, Thrive Capital, and Sequoia Capital are among OpenAI’s top investors who are actively trying to reinstate Altman as CEO, reports suggest.
Multiple OpenAI investors, including Microsoft, are pushing to bring Sam Altman back as CEO after he was sensationally fired for a ‘lack of communication’ with its board
Microsoft, who has invested $13 billion in OpenAI, and Thrive Capital, its second-largest shareholder, have been in talks since Altman lost the top job 48 hours ago.
It is OpenAI’s unusual governance structure, which Altman created, that was able to fire him. A nonprofit board governs OpenAI – and Altman had no equity in the company, therefore, he had little say over the board’s decisions.
This meant that the board could kick Altman out without the consent of some of OpenAI’s billion-dollar backers, who were happy with him at the helm of the tech firm.
The sensational statement sacking Altman read: ‘Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.
‘The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.’
ChatGPT’s expansion occurred so rapidly, that the board had concerns over whether Altman was considering the safety implications of its products – particularly with regard to commercial offerings.
Pictured: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft , who has invested $13 billion in OpenAI has been in talks to get Altman back in his top job
Concerns that he was flouting safety measures, aired by a fellow OpenAI board member, culminated with the 38-year-old’s sudden firing – sending the tech world into frenzy, and a storm of speculation.
Aside from sparking worry amongst the public, this uncertainty was apparently also felt within OpenAI’s six-person board, according to The New York Times report – particularly by one of Altman’s cofounders, Ilya Sutskever.
In a series of interviews, people familiar with the matter described how the AI researcher had become worried about OpenAI’s budding technology prior to the firing, and shared a belief his boss was not paying enough attention to the risks.
Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap sent a memo to employees saying that the firing ‘took us all by surprise.’
He said that the new CEO has ‘our full support’ but recognized that many employees would be feeling ‘confusion, sadness, and fear.’
Lightcap said there was no ‘malfeasance’ in the decision to fire Altman.
Instead, it was a ‘breakdown in communication between Sam and the board.’
Going forward, the COO told staff: ‘We are behind you all 1000%.’
The memo, seen by Axios, read: ‘ Team – after yesterday’s announcement, which took us all by surprise, we have had multiple conversations with the board to try to better understand the reasons and process behind their decision.
‘These discussions, and options regarding our path forward, are ongoing this morning.
The ChatGPT boss was fired by OpenAI’s board including chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, who reportedly raised safety concerns with Altman over the future of AI
‘We can say definitively that the board’s decision was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices.
‘This was a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board.
‘Our position as a company remains extremely strong, and Microsoft remains fully committed to our partnership. [Interim CEO] Mira [Murati] has our full support as CEO. We still share your concerns about how the process has been handled, are working to resolve the situation, and will provide updates as we’re able.
‘I’m sure you all are feeling confusion, sadness, and perhaps some fear. We are fully focused on handling this, pushing toward resolution and clarity, and getting back to work.
‘Our collective responsibility right now is to our teammates, partners, users, customers, and the broader world who shares our vision of broadly beneficial AGI.
‘Hang in there, we are behind you all 1000%.’
Mira Murati, left, OpenAI’s chief technology officer has taken over as interim CEO effective immediately, the company said, while it searches for a permanent replacement
Altman was said to be back in talks with OpenAI executives on Saturday night, during which time he tweeted: ‘I love the OpenAI team so much’
As well as talking with executives to potentially return, Altman is also discussing the possibility of setting up his own company, insiders said.
Altman himself sent a series of tweets on Saturday night apparently in reference to the situation, one of which said: ‘I love the OpenAI team so much.’
The possibilities of a return or a restart for Altman, seen by many as the face of generative AI, are in flux, said a source, who asked not to be named because the source was not authorized to speak on behalf of the parties involved.
Kholsa Ventures, an early backer of OpenAI, wants Altman back at OpenAI but ‘will back him in whatever he does next,’ the fund’s founder Vinod Khosla posted on X on Saturday.
Microsoft declined to comment. It owns 49 percent of the company, while other investors and employees control 49 percent, with 2 percent owned by OpenAI’s nonprofit parent.
Emotions ran high on Saturday as current and former employees were angered by Altman’s sacking and worried over how an upcoming $86 billion share sale could be affected by the sudden management upheaval.