The OpenAI board now features former Salesforce Co-CEO Bret Taylor (Chair), former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and Quora founder Adam D'Angelo. As many as nine additional board members could be named, Bloomberg reported.
Serving All of Humanity vs. Serving Paying Customers
Altman's rehire arrived roughly four days after the software company fired Altman for vaguely disclosed reasons. The issue may have involved OpenAI's original board wanting OpenAI to fulfill its mission serving "all of humanity" while Altman increasingly focused on commercial business opportunities, Bloomberg speculated.
Microsoft -- which owns 49% of OpenAI -- stepped in and briefly hired Altman. But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hinted that he was open to Altman rejoining OpenAI -- if the ChatGPT software maker made governance changes to its business. Nadella's self-fulfilling prophecy came true within a day of that statement. Altman is now rejoining OpenAI.
OpenAI CEO Rehired, Board Shakeup: The Timeline
Here's a timeline of what happened, what's next, and why it matters for sustainable technology partners, green IT service providers and ChatGPT users.
Friday, November 17:OpenAI's board fired founder and CEO Sam Altman, stating "Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI."
Friday, November 17: OpenAI's board named CTO Mira Murati as interim CEO, but the position lasted only about two days.
Friday, November 17: OpenAI’s board of directors during the firing included OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, independent directors Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology’s Helen Toner.
Saturday, November 18: OpenAI investors -- including Microsoft, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global and Thrive Capital -- allegedly pushed to have Altman rehired as CEO of OpenA. The negotiations initially failed. As a reminder: Microsoft owns 49% of OpenAI.
Monday, November 20: Microsoft remains "committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI's new leadership team and working with them," Nadella wrote on X.
"Hire an independent investigator to dig into the entire process leading up to this point and generate a full report."
"Continue to speak to as many of our employees, partners, investors, and customers as possible, take good notes, and share the key takeaways."
"Reform the management and leadership team in light of recent departures into an effective force to drive results for our customers."
Monday, November 20: OpenAI could lose half of its business valuation because of the executive departures, Bloomberg Radio speculated.
Monday, November 20: Nearly 500 OpenAI employees say they may quit and join Sam Altman at Microsoft unless the startup's board resigns and reappoints the ousted CEO, Wired reported. The stance was outlined in a staff letter to the board. Murati -- the interim CEO for roughly two days -- was among the employees to sign the letter, Bloomberg Radio reported.
Monday, November 20: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hinted that he is open to Altman rejoining OpenAI -- if the ChatGPT software maker makes governance changes to its business, according to a Bloomberg Radio interview.
Tuesday, November 21: Multiple OpenAI investors are still working to have Altman rejoin OpenAI as CEO, Bloomberg Radio reported.
Tuesday, November 21: OpenAI rehired Altman and shook up its board. The board now features former Salesforce Co-CEO Bret Taylor (Chair), former U.S. Treasury Leader Larry Summers, and Quora founder Adam D'Angelo. Additional board members are expected to be named. Multiple sources speculate that Microsoft will gain at least one board seat.
OpenAI CEO: Why It Matters to Sustainable Technology Partners, Green IT Service Providers
Artificial intelligence (AI) is both a blessing and a burden for sustainability strategies worldwide. On the upside, AI can help customers to accelerate and improve climate forecasting, risk forecasting and ESG applications. On the downside, AI applications consume lots of energy.
Countering NVIDIA?: Among the next potential moves to watch: Microsoft has been developing AI chips to help reduce the company's dependence on Nvidia and other chip suppliers. Altman allegedly has been interested in developing AI chips as well...
Note: Blog originally posted 8:25am ET on November 20, 2023. Updated regularly thereafter.