Sam Altman's message to OpenAI's ousted board as he returns as CEO - Hindustan Times
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Sam Altman's message to OpenAI's ousted board as he returns as CEO

Nov 30, 2023 10:28 AM IST

The previous board of OpenAI fired Altman from the company on November 18 as it no longer had confidence in his ability to lead the Microsoft-backed firm.

Sam Altman on Wednesday returned as the CEO of OpenAI, ending a crisis that began with his November 17 termination by the board of directors. After his return, the board that fired him was almost entirely replaced after a rebellion by employees. The only member who helped fire Altman - Adam D’Angelo, CEO of question-and-answer site Quora - has been retained in the boardroom.

Sam Altman,CEO of OpenAI(REUTERS)
Sam Altman,CEO of OpenAI(REUTERS)

As Altman returned, he wrote a message to the ousted members of the board in a blog post:

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To OpenAI's ousted AI scientist Ilya Sutskever - who joined in the effort to fire Altman but later signed an employee letter demanding his return - Altman said that he “loves and respects Ilya”. “I think he's a guiding light of the field and a gem of a human being. I harbor zero ill will towards him. While Ilya will no longer serve on the board, we hope to continue our working relationship and are discussing how he can continue his work at OpenAI,” he wrote.

“I am grateful to Adam, Tasha, and Helen for working with us to come to this solution that best serves the mission. I’m excited to continue to work with Adam and am sincerely thankful to Helen and Tasha for investing a huge amount of effort in this process…Thank you also to Emmett who had a key and constructive role in helping us reach this outcome. Emmett’s dedication to AI safety and balancing stakeholders’ interests was clear,” Altman wrote in the blog post.

OpenAI's co-founder Greg Brockman, who had followed Altman out of the company, also returned as president of the company. Stating that Greg and he are “partners”, Altman wrote: “We have never quite figured out how to communicate that on the org chart, but we will.”

OpenAI's previous board consisted of entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technology, OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, as well as Adam D'Angelo. Meanwhile, the new initial board will consist of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and D’Angelo.

“To all of you, our team: I am sure books are going to be written about this time period, and I hope the first thing they say is how amazing the entire team has been. Now that we’re through all of this, we didn’t lose a single employee. You stood firm for each other, this company, and our mission. One of the most important things for the team that builds AGI safely is the ability to handle stressful and uncertain situations, and maintain good judgment throughout. Top marks. Thank you all,” Altman said.

Sam Altman's 3 immediate priorities

As he returned to his original position, Altman said that he has three immediate priorities to focus on - Advancing the research plan and further investing in full-stack safety efforts, continuing to improve and deploy products and serving customers, and building out a board of diverse perspectives, improving governance structure and overseeing an independent review of recent events.

“I am so looking forward to finishing the job of building beneficial AGI with you all—best team in the world, best mission in the world," he said.

The previous board of OpenAI fired Altman from the company on November 18 as it no longer had confidence in his ability to lead the Microsoft-backed firm. Altman's dismissal caught the tech world by surprise given his role as a prominent figure in the artificial intelligence revolution. Following his removal, more than 500 OpenAI employees, accounting for around 65% of its 770-strong workforce, threatened to resign.

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