After the surprising return of Sam Altman as the Chief Executive Officer of OpenAI, the board that had previously dismissed him underwent a significant transformation. Reports from the news agency AFP indicate that almost the entire board responsible for decisions at the ChatGPT-making company has been replaced in response to employee rebellion. The sole survivor on the new board under Altman’s leadership is Adam D’Angelo, the CEO of the question-and-answer platform Quora.
On Friday morning, Altman announced on social media that he had spent time with D’Angelo and that their families had sent him Thanksgiving greetings. The previous board had fired Altman with little notice, which twice led to the appointment of an acting CEO. However, Altman was reinstated as a result of pressure from Microsoft and significant support from OpenAI’s workforce, which numbered over 700.
As per Reuters, the recently appointed board has stronger ties to Wall Street and the US government, along with more senior-level experience. In addition to D’Angelo, former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor and former US Treasury secretary and Harvard University president Larry Summers are anticipated to be on the board.
Summers, a seasoned economist, has been vocal about the potential impact of ChatGPT on the workforce, foreseeing changes in roles such as those of doctors. Taylor, known for his role in Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition, brings key experience to the board.
Despite the reshuffling, uncertainties linger, with OpenAI stating they are “collaborating to figure out the details” of the new board. Microsoft, Summers, and OpenAI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Analysts predict a more cautious approach from OpenAI executives in the aftermath of this management shakeup. Concerns have been raised about the company’s alignment with its mission of “building safe and beneficial artificial general intelligence for the benefit of humanity” amid suggestions of a shift towards commercial gain. While Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman will not return to the board, the Wall Street Journal reports the possibility of up to six additional members joining in the future.
Altman, in a social media post, expressed his commitment to OpenAI’s mission and the team’s unity, emphasizing that the recent actions were taken in the best interest of the company. Interim CEO Emmett Shear clarified that Altman’s removal was not due to a specific disagreement on safety, without providing further details.