Sam Altman ousted and may return to OpenAI: What we know

(Bloomberg) — OpenAI fired Chief Executive Sam Altman on Friday, shocking employees, investors and much of Silicon Valley. After the viral success of the company’s chatbot, ChatGPT, Altman became a spokesperson for the field of artificial intelligence. Almost instantly, the world’s best-known AI startup, which had been in talks to sell employee shares to investors at a valuation of $86 billion, was thrown into chaos. Several people have been appointed, including OpenAI president Greg Brockman, and the board is facing pressure from investors to reinstate Altman, with the board itself likely to resign in the coming days.

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This is the latest:

1. Ultraman clashed with the board of directors on issues such as safety and ambition.

OpenAI’s decision to fire Altman came after widespread disagreements between the CEO and the board, including over the safety of artificial intelligence, the speed of technology development and the company’s commercialization, according to a person familiar with the matter. this person said. Ultraman’s ambition may also play a role. Altman has been seeking to raise tens of billions of dollars from Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds to create an artificial intelligence chip startup, according to a person familiar with the investment plans. He also sought billions of dollars from SoftBank Group Chairman Masayoshi Son in a new company to collaborate with former Apple designer Jony Ive to produce hardware for artificial intelligence. Board may be put off by Altman raising money under OpenAI name The new companies don’t have the same governance model as OpenAI, the person said.

2. OpenAI chief scientist calls on board of directors

Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI co-founder and the company’s chief scientist, told Altman that he has left the company and is believed to be at the center of the board’s conflict with him. Sutskever’s responsibilities at the company were reduced a month ago, reflecting friction between him and Sutskever. Sutskever later appealed to the board, winning the support of some members, including Helen Toner, director of strategy at the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technologies. (Helen Toner).

3. Altman caught him off guard in Google Meet chat

Ultraman was caught off guard by this move. Brockman and Altman said in a joint statement posted on “Sam attended a Google Meet and the entire team, except Greg, was present,” the post reads. “Elijah told Sam he was being fired and word would come out soon.” Shortly after, Brock Mann was informed that he would be removed as chairman of the board. But will continue to serve as president.

4. Microsoft was caught off guard, and the CEO supported Ultraman

A person familiar with the matter said that despite being OpenAI’s largest backer to date, Microsoft only gave a few minutes’ notice of Altman’s firing. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was blindsided by the board’s decision, according to people familiar with the matter. has been in contact with Altman and pledged to support him no matter what next steps he takes. The tech giant has invested billions in OpenAI and is using its partnership with the startup to add artificial intelligence capabilities to many of its best-known software products and appears to be ahead of the curve. In public statements, Nadella sought to allay concerns that Altman’s departure could harm the company’s long-term artificial intelligence plans. Get everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnerships,” he wrote in a blog post.

5. Air sharing sales

Just a few weeks ago, OpenAI employees were about to sell their shares at a valuation of $86 billion. But within hours of Altman’s departure, hundreds of millions of dollars of OpenAI stock traded among a handful of people on the secondary market. The company is in trouble, according to people familiar with the matter. Some deals were put on hold and some were canceled outright, people familiar with the matter said. Thrive is expected to lead a tender offer for employee shares, but has not yet wired the funds and has made it clear to OpenAI’s board that Altman’s departure will affect that decision.

6. Board of Directors under pressure to reinstate Altman

OpenAI investors are now pressuring the company’s board to reverse its decision to fire Altman, according to people familiar with the matter. Altman is open to returning to the company, one of the people said. In one scenario being considered, current board member OpenAI’s board of directors would step down. If Altman doesn’t come back, more employees could jump ship — potentially joining whatever projects he launches next and further jeopardizing OpenAI’s position as the market leader in artificial intelligence. In a joint post on Friday, Brockman and Altman said, “Greater things are coming.”

–With assistance from Brad Stone, Ashlee Vance, Dina Bass, Ed Ludlow, and Emily Chang.

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