Sam Altman asserts control over OpenAI as he rejoins its board

The outcome of the investigation into Sam Altman's controversial firing from OpenAI three months ago marks a stunning victory for the top chief executive as he moves to reassert control of the artificial intelligence company he helped build.

OpenAI, at a press conference on Friday, said Mr. Altman said he had done nothing to justify his removal and that he would regain a stake in the company that he still misses. He: A seat on the company's board of directors.

Mr. Altman's exit shocked Silicon Valley and affected the future of one of the tech industry's most influential start-ups. Mr. It also raised questions about whether OpenAI, with or without Altman in charge, is ready to carry the banner of the tech industry's obsessive focus on artificial intelligence.

When he returned to OpenAI in November, Mr. Altman did not regain his board seat while agreeing to an investigation into his conduct and board actions. The two members who voted to remove him agreed to resign; Their replacements, from outside the firm, oversaw the investigation at law firm WilmerHale. Brett Taylor, chairman of the board at OpenAI, said during the news conference that the much-anticipated report on the episode was over, but the company did not release the statement.

A report by the law firm, Mr. The company said it found that OpenAI's board acted within its broad discretion in firing Altman, but that his conduct did not warrant removal.

“The Special Committee recommended and the entire committee expressed full confidence in Mr. Altman and Mr. Brockman,” said Mr. Taylor said, Mr. That refers to company president Greg Brockman, who quit in protest after Altman was fired. “We are excited and unanimous in our support for Sam and Greg.”

OpenAI moved to address concerns about the lack of diversity on the board by adding three women as directors: Sue Desmond-Hellman, former chief executive of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Nicole Seligman, former general counsel of Sony; and Fiji Simo, CEO of Instacart.

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One of the movers to OpenAI's board in November, Mr. Taylor said the board will continue to expand.

With additions to the report and board, OpenAI is led by Mr. It hopes to move past the controversy over Altman's ouster. The incident raised countless questions about his leadership and the San Francisco organization's unusual structure — a nonprofit board that oversees a for-profit organization.

But since it hasn't released a statement, many questions about the OpenAI company remain unanswered. On how the investigation was handled, Mr. Some insiders have asked if Altman had too much control.

“As we told investigators, deception, manipulation and resistance to full oversight are unacceptable,” Helen Donner and Tasha McCauley, two OpenAI team members who left late last year, said in a statement. “We hope the new board will do its job to manage OpenAI and hold it accountable.”

Mr. Mr Taylor said at a news conference on Friday. Appeared with Altman. After announcing the new board members, Mr. He said the review found that the previous board acted in good faith in firing Altman, but did not anticipate the challenges that would arise from his dismissal.

“The review board's decision did not arise out of any concern regarding product safety or security,” said Mr. Taylor said. “This is simply a breach of trust between the board and Mr. Altman.”

Mr. After Taylor finished his prepared remarks, Mr. Altman praised the resilience of the company and its partners. “I'm glad this whole thing is over,” he said.

OpenAI provided a six-paragraph summary of the report. It said WilmerHale reviewed 30,000 documents and conducted dozens of interviews, including with former OpenAI board members.

Mr. It found that the board had been accurate in its reasoning and public explanation prior to Altman's dismissal. It also said the board did not expect its move to disrupt the company.

WilmerHale gave oral explanations of the report, which will not be made public, Mr. Taylor and Lawrence H. Summers, a former Treasury secretary, was also added to the board in November.

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Mr. Taylor said OpenAI has made a number of changes to improve the way the company operates, including new governance guidelines for the board, a new interest policy and a whistle-blower hotline.

A summary of OpenAI's statement, the company's senior leaders, Mr. Altman did not provide insight into the concerns brought to the previous panel. Before he was fired, OpenAI's Chief Scientist Ilya Sutzkever and OpenAI's Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati were among Mr. They expressed concern about Altman's management style, which has been characterized as a history of manipulative behavior, according to The New York Times.

Dr. Sutzkever, through an attorney, called those claims “false.” Ms. Muratty said in A Company Slack Post On Thursday he said Mr. He shared the same feedback with the board as he did directly to Altman, but said he did not approach the board to share those concerns.

“I am pleased that the independent review has concluded and we can all move forward in solidarity,” Ms Muratti said in a post on Friday on X, formerly known as Twitter.

OpenAI is still being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for the Board's actions and Mr. Altman is being investigated for possibly misleading investors. Companies that hire outside law firms often turn the report over to public investigators after completing the report. A spokesperson for OpenAI's board declined to say whether it would provide the report to the SEC

(The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft in December for copyright infringement of news content related to AI systems.)

OpenAI, valued at more than $80 billion in its latest funding round, is a leader in technologies that can generate AI, text, images and sounds. Many believe that generative AI will completely transform the technology industry, just as the web browser did three decades ago. Others worry that the technology could cause serious harm, help spread online misinformation, replace countless jobs and threaten the future of humanity.

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After releasing OpenAI online chatbot ChatGPT in late 2022, Mr. A year after Altman became the face of the industry's push toward AI, the board unexpectedly ousted him, saying it lacked confidence in his ability to run the company.

The team shrunk to six people: three founders and three independent members. Along with three outsiders, one of the founders of OpenAI, Dr. Sutskever voted to remove Mr Altman as chief executive and chairman of the board, noting that he was “not consistently honest in his communications”.

Another founder Mr. Brockman protested and resigned from the company. A few days later, Dr. Sutzkever, Mr. Three independent members said they regretted their decision to fire Altman and effectively quit the board. He also said that he was made to stand against Altman.

OpenAI was founded as a non-profit organization in 2015 by Mr. Altman created a non-profit subsidiary three years later and raised $1 billion from Microsoft. The non-profit group, whose mission was to develop AI for the benefit of humanity, maintained complete control over the new subsidiary. Investors, including Microsoft, had no legal say in who ran the company.

Resolving the turmoil Mr. In an effort to bring Altman back to the company, he and the board replaced the two members with Mr. They agreed to appoint Taylor. But Mr. Altman was not included in the group again. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Summers is Mr. Altman and he were charged with overseeing the impeachment inquiry.

OpenAI's closest partner, Microsoft, has a board observer position, which is filled by the company's vice president, technology and research partnerships. Microsoft on Friday declined to comment on the board and the report.

The new board faced criticism from corporate governance experts for its lack of diversity. Mr. Taylor told The Times in November that he would fill the board by adding “qualified, diverse candidates” who “represent the entirety of this mission, the technology, the AI ​​security policy.”

Karen Weiss contributed reporting.

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