The rapid developments surrounding the Friday resignation of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Chairman of the Board of Directors Greg Brockman by the end of the weekend had created a public perception that the parties to the corporate conflict were ready to negotiate, and the former head of the startup Altman even confirmed his appearance in company headquarters as a guest after his resignation. However, the negotiations reached a dead end.
Image source: X, Sam Altman
As evidence of his visit to OpenAI headquarters, Sam Altman posted a photo of himself holding his temporary pass, saying it was the “first and last time” he would use it. The Information reported that Altman was invited to OpenAI headquarters in San Francisco last Sunday for talks. The invitation came from the interim CEO of the company, Mira Murati, and she informed her subordinates of her decision. Former president and chairman Greg Brockman, who followed Altman from OpenAI on Friday, was also invited to the talks.
According to co-founder and board director Ilya Sutskever, Sam Altman will not return to the post of CEO of OpenAI, despite attempts by the company’s management to bring him back. After talks over the weekend with the board of directors, which fired him on Friday, as well as remaining executives and top investors, Altman will not return to the startup he co-founded in 2015, Sutskever told employees. Emmett Shear, co-founder of Amazon-owned streaming service Twitch, will take over as interim CEO, Sutskever said.
Efforts by a group of OpenAI executives and investors to reinstate Sam Altman as CEO have stalled due to differences over the composition and role of the board, according to people familiar with the talks. Altman was ready to return, but wanted changes in the management of the company, including the removal of current board members, Bloomberg writes. It is also reported that Altman wanted to be released from liability for the offenses committed. After violent indignation, members of the board of directors initially agreed in principle to resign, and even began searching for new directors. Key OpenAI leaders also pushed for the board to resign and bring back Altman, one of the people said. The list included interim CEO Mira Murati, chief strategy officer Jason Kwon and chief operations officer Brad Lightcap.
Microsoft Corporation, which is a major investor in this startup, which gave the world the popular ChatGPT generative artificial intelligence system, intervened in the negotiation process. If Altman were to lead the company again, according to sources, Microsoft would insist on including a representative on OpenAI’s board of directors. As an alternative, a more moderate scenario was considered, with a Microsoft representative delegating supervisory powers on the board of directors without voting rights.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg published new details about Altman’s very initiative to develop his own chip for OpenAI’s needs, which partly caused the discord in his relationship with the company’s board of directors. The former CEO wanted to start a subsidiary that would focus on developing a Tigris chip that could compete with NVIDIA’s products and reduce OpenAI’s own costs of maintaining its computing infrastructure.
Altman, sources said, was in talks with investors from the Middle East, including Mubadala Investment Company and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, as well as Japan’s SoftBank Corporation. The latter simultaneously tried to take part in a deal to buy out shares from OpenAI employees, which would have valued the company’s capitalization at $86 billion, but the resignation of management obviously prevented preparations for this deal.
If Altman returns to the post of head of OpenAI, then he will have to develop projects to develop his own computing accelerator after agreement with the company’s board of directors. Tens of billions of dollars will have to be raised for these needs, so such important decisions are inevitably agreed upon by the board. The search for investors in the Middle East, according to outside experts, is intended to somewhat lull the vigilance of American regulators, who are traditionally distrustful of Chinese investors, but are more favorable to cooperation with Middle Eastern countries. In any case, foreign investors in such a sensitive area will be able to claim up to 10% of the capital of a new startup and will not receive seats on the board of directors. According to unofficial data, Microsoft was also ready to support Altman with his chip development startup, but for now it is more important for it to restore order in the management of OpenAI.
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