Sam Altman will reportedly not resume his role as the CEO of OpenAI, despite concerted efforts by the company’s executives to persuade him to return, according to sources cited by The Information. The report suggests that Emmett Shear, co-founder of the popular video streaming platform Twitch, is set to take on the role of interim CEO, as reportedly revealed by Ilya Sutskever, co-founder and board director.
The abrupt change in leadership comes as a shock, given Altman’s prominent position as the face of generative AI and his instrumental role in steering OpenAI’s transition from a nonprofit organisation to a commercially viable entity. Sources indicate that Altman was ousted by the company due to a perceived lack of transparency in his communications. Allegedly, he clashed with board members who expressed concerns about the pace of his initiatives, especially in relation to the safety implications of a technology that, if unchecked, could generate content with potential harm to the public.
OpenAI’s Chief Operating Officer, Brad Lightcap, stated over the weekend that safety concerns were not the primary reason for Altman’s dismissal, attributing the decision to a “breakdown in communications.”
Following these events, reports surfaced that Mira Murati, the interim Chief Executive Officer, is contemplating the reinstatement of Altman and former President Greg Brockman in roles yet to be finalised.
The news of Altman’s non-return coincides with speculation that Microsoft, a major investor with a stake exceeding $10 billion in OpenAI, is collaborating with investors such as Thrive Capital and Tiger Global Management to facilitate Altman’s comeback.
In an effort to reinstate Altman, investors are reportedly advocating for a change in the current board. While the directors have contemplated stepping down, they are presently hesitant to do so. The situation remains fluid, and final decisions have not been solidified. If the board were to step down, investors are said to be evaluating potential new directors, with Bret Taylor, the former co-CEO of Salesforce, emerging as one of the contenders.
This news follows Altman’s recent post on social media, where he shared a photo of a guest card from the OpenAI offices, stating, “First and last time I ever wear one of these.”