Sam Altman, members of the OpenAI board and the company’s interim chief executive officer have opened negotiations aimed at a possible reinstatement of the ousted CEO at the artificial intelligence startup he co-founded, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Discussions are happening between Altman, CEO Emmett Shear and at least one board member, Adam D’Angelo, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private and they may not come to fruition. The talks also involve some of OpenAI’s investors, many of whom are pushing for his reinstatement, one of the people said.
If Altman returns, it would be as CEO of the company, according to one person. In one scenario being discussed, Altman would become a director on a transitional board, one of the people said. Former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor could also serve as a director on a new board, multiple people said.
That the board and Altman are in communication is a significant development because until Monday, the directors largely refused to engage with the executive they fired last week, several people have said.
OpenAI shareholders angling for Altman’s reinstatement include Thrive Capital, Khosla Ventures and Tiger Global Management, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg. Prominent venture capital firm Sequoia Capital is working alongside the group, another person said.
On Monday (US time), the company’s Vice President of Global Affairs Anna Makanju sent a memo to staff saying the company had been in “intense discussions” with the board, Altman and Shear to unify the company. The message came after the majority of employees threatened to quit if Altman were not reinstated, among other demands.
There is a push to resolve the chaos surrounding the company’s leadership before Thanksgiving, said one person, in the hope that employees don’t spend the holiday with uncertainty looming about the state of their jobs.
The board has come under intense scrutiny for its decision to fire Altman, saying that the CEO was not “consistently candid in his communications.”
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