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Less than a day after Sam Altman was unceremoniously deposed from his position as CEO of leading artificial intelligence giant OpenAI, multiple reports have surfaced suggesting that the company—or at least its major investors, which include Microsoft—is negotiating to bring him back.
The coup on the six-member board of directors, which included Altman and company co-founder and board chairman Greg Brockman, was led by chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, according to reporting by The Verge and The New York Times. It was executed around noon on Friday without Brockman’s participation and without any advance discussions with Altman or the company’s major investors.
Those investors—and Microsoft in particular, which has poured an estimated $13 billion into the former non-profit—were blindsided. And while the Redmond-based tech behemoth issued a public statement declaring the “utmost confidence” in a post-Altman OpenAI, multiple news outlets are reporting that Microsoft was betting on Altman’s leadership, and is a central player in a behind-the-scenes move to bring him back to lead the company.
OpenAI nor Microsoft have not confirmed any of these reports.
The chaos is based not only in what Altman was doing for the company—most recently illustrated by a jam-packed DevDay keynote just a week ago—but in the possibility that he might start something new and compete directly with his former employer, according to Reuters.
Altman abrupt dismissal triggered a series of significant departures from the company, starting with Brockman.
“I’m super proud of what we’ve all built together since starting in my apartment 8 years ago,” Brockman wrote on Twitter, quoting Altman’s earlier farewell message. “We’ve been through tough & great times together, accomplishing so much despite all the reasons it should have been impossible.
“But based on today’s news, I quit,” he said.
Many have compared the corporate drama to the firing of Steve Jobs by Apple’s board of directors in 1995. The technology visionary was eventually brought back to lead the Cupertino-based company to become the most valuable company in the world. His hiring and firing happened on the same day, eleven years apart.
In Altman’s case, however, his return may come much faster.
This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.