OpenAI reportedly considering reinstating just-ousted CEO Sam Altman

Following his surprise firing on Friday, former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman may not be as out of a job as we initially thought, according to a report from The edge on Saturday. Sources close to Altman reportedly say that the board itself, in a surprising reversal, has “agreed in principle” to resign and reinstate him to his previous position. However, the board has since reportedly missed the 5 pm PT deadline regarding the decision.

Shortly after Altman’s firing on Friday afternoon, several senior officials, including former president Greg Brockman, research director Jakub Pachocki, preparation chief Aleksander Madry and senior researcher Szymon Sidor, submitted their resignations in protest. Other OpenAI staff were also supposed to resign in solidarity at that meeting. They are reportedly willing to follow Altman, style Jerry Maguireto a new AI startup, should it decide to launch one.

An internal memo that circulated after Altman’s firing argued that his firing was not related to “embezzlement or anything related to our financial, business, security or privacy practices,” according to Axios’ reports.

Microsoft is a major investor in the OpenAI company, having pumped another $10 billion into the project’s coffers last January as part of a long-term partnership between the two. In total, it has invested around $13 billion in OpenAI. In a statement, Microsoft said it maintains the “utmost confidence” in OpenAI interim CEO Mira Murati and “remains confident” in the partnership overall.

Despite these assurances, rank-and-file employees received little notice before the official announcement of Altman’s overthrow (Altman himself received even less, reportedly only 5 to 10 minutes). Altman, in the days before his firing, remained an active supporter and recruiter for the company, appearing at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum less than a day before his firing.

According The New York Times, Neither Altman nor Brockman is guaranteed a return to power, largely due to the company’s nonprofit origins, which prevent investors from driving company-wide decisions. Instead, they leave those decisions to the board members themselves. Altman and Brockman were members of OpenAI’s board of directors. However, with his departure, only the main investigator, Ilya Sutskever; Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora; Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology; and computer scientist Tasha McCauley remain members, at least for the weekend.

“We are still working toward a resolution and remain optimistic,” Chief Strategy Officer Jason Kwon wrote to company staff in a Saturday memo, according to Information. “By resolution we mean bringing back Sam, Greg, Jakub [Pachocki]Szymon [Sidor]Alexander [Madry] and other colleagues (sorry if I missed you!) and continue to be the place where people who want to work on AGI research, security, products and policy can do their best work.”

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