On Monday, the prevailing theories about the reasons behind the OpenAI chaos were debunked. In a tweet by X early in the morning, the board’s new interim CEO, Emmett Shear, clarified that Sam Altman was not removed due to safety concerns. The actual reason for his removal, however, was not disclosed by Shear.
Sutskever, another key player, also discredited the notion that Altman’s removal was connected to safety concerns by adding his name to a letter signed by almost 500 staff members threatening to resign if Altman wasn’t reinstated. This was followed by a swift endorsement from 95 percent of the company.
Sutskever went on to express remorse for his involvement in the board’s actions, negating the idea that safety concerns were a major factor. In a post on X, he stated, “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also admitted to being in the dark about the board’s rationale for ousting Altman, despite Microsoft’s substantial investment in OpenAI. He expressed confidence in Altman’s leadership and capabilities and reiterated the intent to welcome him to Microsoft.
As the OpenAI upheaval entered its fourth day, the original reason for Altman’s termination remained elusive.
Before his removal as CEO, Altman was part of OpenAI’s board alongside Brockman, Sutskever, and three outsiders. These included Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora; Tasha McCauley, CEO of GeoSim Systems; and Helen Toner, an expert on AI and foreign relations at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. Altman, along with his co-founders, had initially established OpenAI as a nonprofit, but its subsequent transformation into a commercial entity and the launch of ChatGPT prompted the board’s concerns and subsequent action.
Earlier this month, Altman hosted the company’s first developer conference, marking a significant milestone in its evolution. However, the board’s apprehensions emerged, leading to the current situation.
Additional reporting by Paresh Dave.