Ex-CEO and cofounder of OpenAI Sam Altman is engaging in discussions to return to the company just a day after the board ousted him, according to multiple media reports.
The Verge reported that the former OpenAI CEO was holding talks with the company but felt “ambivalent” about a return. Altman is reportedly considering returning to his role, but has told investors that he wants to completely reconfigure the board, the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to tech reporter Kara Swisher, the OpenAI board is crawling back to its former CEO because “Inept board realized it was inept.”
It makes the old Yahoo board look like geniuses— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) November 18, 2023
Altman’s firing came as a shock to the tech industry on Friday as the board cited concerns over its communication with the CEO, stating that he wasn’t always candid with the board and that they’d lost faith in his ability to lead the company. Former Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati was named interim CEO.
Even Microsoft, which invested billions into the AI company, was shocked to learn of Altman’s ousting just one minute prior to the announcement going public. Microsoft has been OpenAI’s strongest partner and the startup relies on the company for funding.
OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, who also cofounded the company, sits on the company’s board and was reportedly instrumental in the removal of Altman. Shortly after Altman was ousted, the company’s president and fellow cofounder Greg Brockman quit. A number of senior researchers also resigned on Friday.
In the meantime, Altman has reportedly been planning a new AI venture, which has piqued the interest of potential investors.
Late Friday night, Altman and Brockman issued a joint statement saying they were “shocked and saddened” by the day’s events, but insisted “we will be fine. Greater things coming soon.”
In a separate statement posted on X, Altman said, “I love you all. today was a weird experience in many ways. but one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive.
i love you all.— Sam Altman (@sama) November 18, 2023
today was a weird experience in many ways. but one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive. the outpouring of love is awesome.
one takeaway: go tell your friends how great you think they are.
Then later, Altman got a bit bolder, saying “if i start going off, the openai board should go after me for the full value of my shares.“
if i start going off, the openai board should go after me for the full value of my shares— Sam Altman (@sama) November 18, 2023