The unexpected removal of Altman from the position of CEO the OpenAI board of directors has generated various speculations regarding the underlying reasons.
Sam Altman has made a return to OpenAI’s San Francisco headquarters, where he is actively advocating for his reinstatement. He is in alignment with other former leaders who have also departed from the organization. The sudden removal of Altman from his role as CEO and from the board has sparked numerous speculations regarding the motives behind this unexpected change.
Championing Reinstatement Alongside Departed Leaders
A mere 48 hours after his removal by OpenAI’s board of directors, Sam Altman was at the company’s San Francisco headquarters, according to a report by Engadget. He actively participated alongside executives, advocating for his reinstatement and that of other recently departed leaders. Individuals familiar with the situation conveyed that Interim CEO Mira Murati and the leadership team had extended an invitation for Altman to return. Additionally, Greg Brockman, the former chairman and president who resigned in the aftermath of Altman’s termination, also made a return to the office on Sunday.
Jason Kwon, Chief Strategy Officer, has conveyed a positive outlook regarding the potential reinstatement of Sam Altman. Greg Brockman and three senior researchers resigned in solidarity on Friday night. The unexpected removal of Altman from the position of CEO and the OpenAI board of directors has generated various speculations regarding the underlying reasons. Note that an internal memo circulated among the staff on that particular morning. It cited a “breakdown in communication between Sam and the board” as the primary cause for Altman’s removal.
According to a memo from COO Brad Lightcap, the decision to remove Sam Altman did not stem from any misconduct. It was also unrelated to the organization’s finances, business operations, safety, or security/privacy practices. Altman, in response, shared a picture on Twitter of himself wearing a guest badge. Note that it is a tweet that is open to various interpretations. Sources from The Verge have revealed that Altman has set a firm deadline of 5 PM PT for board members to come to a consensus. This pivotal agreement could significantly impact Altman’s future involvement with OpenAI. It has also led to speculations about whether he will depart or if the board will make the decision.
Challenges in Achieving Consensus
The current deadlock is partly due to the challenge of reaching a consensus on the structure and duties of the board if Sam Altman returns to the company. Reportedly, Altman is advocating for the removal of the current board as a condition for his return. He is also proposing “governance changes” as his condition. According to sources from Bloomberg, Altman is contemplating appointing former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor to the board. Additionally, he is considering adding an executive from Microsoft. However, a decision on the latter has not been finalized yet.
Before his unexpected removal, Altman was actively involved in fundraising initiatives for a specialized AI chip project named “Tigris.” He had been presenting the concept of customized Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) to compete with NVIDIA’s offerings to potential investors in the Middle East.
Furthermore, Altman was reportedly seeking financial backing for a hardware collaboration with former Apple designer Jony Ive. He had also allegedly approached SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son for support. Insider sources revealed to Bloomberg that Altman is in the process of securing “tens of billions of dollars.” The purpose of the huge financial sum is to launch these ambitious projects.