OpenAI Board pressurized by Microsoft, other top investors to reinstate Sam Altman

Sam Altman. Photo Courtesy:

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IBNS: OpenAI is under pressure from its top investors to bring back Sam Altman as chief executive officer after sacking him on Friday, taking the world by surprise, international media reports said.

Microsoft Corp is said to be leading the efforts to reinstate Altman.

The company has more than $10 billion stake in the artificial intelligence company, which has created ChatGPT.

Microsoft Corp is working with investors including Thrive Capital and Tiger Global Management to bring back Altman, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous discussing private information.

Venture capital firms with stakes in OpenAI’s profit-driven venture have engaged in discussions with Microsoft and senior personnel at the company about the possibility of reinstating Altman.  This is despite indications from Altman himself that he plans to establish a new startup, Forbes reported, citing information from four sources.

As per a Bloomberg report, Satya Nadella has personally assured Altman of his support in his future endeavours, expressing surprise at the board’s decision to remove Altman as the company’s CEO.

Upon Sam Altman’s departure from the company, a number of key figures, including co-founder Greg Brockman and other top researchers, tendered their resignation as a form of protest.

Bloomberg reported citing sources that such resignations could persist following Altman’s removal and if Altman were to return as the OpenAI CEO, he would likely seek alterations in the company’s governance structure.

Meanwhile, The Verge reported that the staff at OpenAI have set a deadline of 5 pm for the board to reinstate Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, or else more resignations would occur.

Initially, the board had agreed to step down to facilitate Altman and Greg’s return but later hesitated and missed the specified deadline. The Verge report also suggests that if Altman opts to start a new company, these employees are likely to follow him.

According to a source cited by Forbes, the strategy outlined in the playbook is quite direct. Prompt the new leadership at OpenAI, currently led by acting CEO Mira Murati and the remaining board, to acknowledge the untenability of their situation. This would be attained through a joint effort involving a mass protest by senior researchers, withholding cloud computing credits from Microsoft, and the potential threat of a lawsuit from investors.

Faced with such challenges, it is expected that the management would be forced to reinstate Altman. This could subsequently lead to the exit of people thought to be the forces behind Altman’s removal, including co-founder Ilya Sutskever and board director Adam D’Angelo, who is the CEO of Quora, the report said.

The Forbes report further added that if such an effort fails to materialise in time, Altman and OpenAI ex-president Greg Brockman may go ahead with their plans to raise funds for their new venture Newco.

The report added citing sources that at least one firm, Sequoia, was separately communicating with Microsoft to push for Altman and Brockman’s reinstatement and it has expressed support for Altman, regardless of the option he chooses to pursue.