Sam Altman to return to OpenAI following staff revolt
After staff threatened to jump ship to Microsoft, Sam Altman has been re-hired as CEO of OpenAI.
It has been a week of turmoil for AI research pioneers OpenAI. The ouster of Sam Altman and Greg Brockman led to a rollercoaster of events, but it might finally all be resolved now, with Altman returning to his post as CEO of OpenAI.
On November 17, the board of OpenAI announced that CEO Sam Altman and fellow co-founder Greg Brockman were both being removed from the company. The move was widely described as a ‘boardroom coup’ and many staff were left unhappy.
Staff solidarity wins return of Altman at OpenAI
Staff at OpenAI expressed their frustration with an open letter that declared an intent to jump ship to this new Microsoft division if Altman and Brockman were not re-instated. The letter was ultimately co-signed by over 700 staff, an overwhelming majority of the 770 staff at OpenAI. The letter condemned the process used during the firing of Altman and Brockman and accused the OpenAI board of negotiating in bad faith.
The letter appears to have had the desired effect, as, after a new round of negotiations, an agreement has been made for the ‘return in principle’ of Altman along with President Greg Brockman.
The deal is also said to include a new set of board members, which according to The Verge will be representing Microsoft’s interests.
It has been almost a year since the launch of ChatGPT set off an explosion of interest in AI technology.
Over two million developers now utilize OpenAI APIs, and it is one of the biggest players in the generative AI space. How this shake-up will affect the company in the longer term remains to be seen.