Talks at OpenAI to bring back Sam Altman, the AI startup’s recently ousted CEO, continued Sunday afternoon, but there were disagreements over the makeup of the company’s board of directors, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
Altman, 38, spent the weekend waging a pressure campaign on the startup’s four-person board of directors that ousted him Friday afternoon, three people familiar with the matter said. The result was a groundswell of support from OpenAI investors, employees, and executives.
Altman was at OpenAI headquarters on Sunday afternoon. He posted a photo of himself on
The talks included a look at how the company’s board could be reshaped if Altman returns as CEO, two of the people said. Board members have not yet agreed on what a restructured board would look like, nor is Altman’s reinstatement inevitable, two of the people said.
There has been a flurry of activity since Altman was forced to leave OpenAI, a company he helped found eight years ago and which has become one of the most followed tech companies thanks to its popular ChatGPT chatbot.
On Sunday afternoon, Will Hurd, a former OpenAI board member and former Republican congressman from Texas, was standing outside the company’s headquarters in San Francisco’s Mission district waiting to be taken to the airport after spending two days investigating Altman’s details. dismissal.
Hurd said a company representative had called him Friday morning, before Altman’s ouster, and asked for help in overcoming the turmoil in leadership. Hurd traveled from Texas to San Francisco on Saturday.
“Industry is important, business is important,” Hurd said. “This is the future. How do we ensure that there is a level of trust and transparency? Everything we want from models, we want from governance.”
OpenAI declined to comment.
The OpenAI board of directors is unique. The organization began as a nonprofit before transforming into a for-profit company and bringing in Microsoft as its largest investor. The for-profit company still answers to the nonprofit board. As a result, the company’s investors have had no official say in what happens with the new company or who runs it.
Before Altman was ousted, OpenAI had six board members, including Altman and Greg Brockman, the company’s co-founder and chairman of the board who resigned on Friday in solidarity with Altman.
The other board members are Ilya Sutskever, co-founder of OpenAI; Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora, the question and answer site; Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology; and Tasha McCauley, entrepreneur and computer scientist.
Since Friday, people close to the company have been trying to learn why the board fired Mr. Altman. Brad Lightcap, the company’s chief operating officer, said in a note to staff Saturday that there was no “embezzlement” involved.
The stalemate is the latest twist in a series of power struggles at OpenAI. The fight drew attention to a long-standing divide in the AI community between people who believe AI is the biggest business opportunity in a generation and others who fear moving too quickly could be dangerous.
The company was recently in talks to raise a new round of financing that would value it at more than $80 billion. Bloomberg News Before reported some of the details of the discussions.
Altman’s potential reinstatement would be a dramatic shift for OpenAI, which said it had not been “consistently candid” in its discussions with the board when it unceremoniously removed him.
As deliberations continued on Sunday, OpenAI executives called for resources. At 12:45 a.m., a delivery man with a dozen drinks from the Boba Guys chain showed up on a motorcycle on the street with two bags. Another delivery man followed later with half a dozen more drinks.