Microsoft, one of OpenAI’s biggest investors, spent the weekend urging the OpenAI board to reinstate Sam Altman as CEO after he was let go on Friday.
“Today was a weird experience in many ways. but one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive,” Altman wrote in a tweet late Friday. “The outpouring of love is awesome. One takeaway: go tell your friends how great you think they are.”
Microsoft, working with other investors such as Thrive Capital and Tiger Global Management, is pushing for the board to reinstate Altman.
Thrive, which had intended to lead a tender offer for employee shares, as of the weekend, per Bloomberg, had not yet wired the money and has made it clear to OpenAI that Altman’s departure will affect its actions. The investor, second to Microsoft, is working to reinstate Altman and president Greg Brockman, who quit on Friday in protest.
Vinod Khosla, venture capitalist, wrote on X: "To be clear, Khosla Ventures wants @sama back at @OpenAI, but will back him in whatever he does next. He also called Altman” a once in a generation CEO. He’s an instigator whose positive mark on the world will be indelible, and profound, in every corner of the globe.”
Investors also want to replace the current board, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the deal.
If the board steps down, investors are reviewing a list of possible new directors such as Bret Taylor, the former co-CEO of Salesforce.
OpenAI's worth us an estimated at nearly $30 billion. About 49% of the company is owned by Microsoft.
The move by the board -- a surprise to Altman and Microsoft -- rocked the AI world. Altman, the driving force behind the startup, has spent years building the company from a nonprofit to a commercially successful business with a variety of tools and services.
Greg Brockman, OpenAI president, resigned shortly after learning of Altman’s dismissal. On X he posted a timeline of events that led up to the firing.
“Sam got a text from Ilya asking to talk at noon Friday,” Brockman wrote. “Sam joined a Google Meet and the whole board, except Greg, was there. Ilya told Sam he was being fired and that the news was going out very soon.”
Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI chief scientist and co-founder and board member, reportedly disagreed with Altman over several things like the pace of developing generative AI, Bloomberg reported, citing a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
He asked Altman for a call on Friday and told him that he was fired on a Google Meet, Brockman said in a post on X.
Shortly after Brockman was removed from the board, OpenAI published a blog detailing the leadership change. Chief technology officer Mira Murati was appointed interim CEO to lead OpenAI.
The board stated the reason for Altman’s dismissal as not being “consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
The board of directors consists of Sutskever, independent directors Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology’s Helen Toner.
If Altman does not return to OpenAI, reports have surfaced that he will consider launching a new company, possibly with former staffers of OpenAI.