Sam Altman Returns as OpenAI CEO With New Board

    Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch via Getty Images (Oct. 3, 2019)

    The Facts

    • OpenAI announced on Tuesday that Sam Altman will return as the company’s CEO, less than one week after he was surprisingly ousted from the role. The company announced on X that Altman will rejoin the OpenAI with a new initial board.

    • The artificial intelligence (AI) industry was taken by storm when the ChatGPT maker fired Altman last Friday for not being "consistently candid in his communications with the board." His departure led most of OpenAI’s 770 employees to sign a letter saying they would leave the company to join Microsoft, where Altman was slated to begin employment.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    OpenAI’s now-former board of directors acted egregiously and nearly lost a significant amount of the company’s talent. Nearly all of OpenAI’s 700 employees threatened to leave the dysfunctional AI company after the hostile coup against Sam Altman, and the power-hungry board of directors nearly destroyed the most promising company in the AI field. Luckily, Altman is back with a new board, and employee trust can be restored. However, this saga is an important lesson for many company boards.

    Narrative B

    While its execution may have been flawed, OpenAI’s former board of directors was acting in the world’s best interest when it fired Sam Altman last week. AI is so young, yet its potential power is so profound, making open and clear communication necessary. While Altman may not have been acting nefariously, the board couldn't take the risk of allowing the AI leader to act cryptically. AI’s prowess could fundamentally change our way of life, so it was reasonable for OpenAI’s board to act accordingly, even if it was chaotic and ill-planned.

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