After Sam Altman’s eventful return as OpenAI’s CEO, the company, on the eve of ChatGPT’s first anniversary, announced the inclusion of Microsoft as a non-voting observer on its board. The decision raises questions about why the company’s largest investor wasn’t initially on the board, though this appears to be partially addressed for now. Altman, alongside co-founder Greg Brockman, reassumes his role as President. Mira Murati, who briefly served as interim CEO during the recent developments, is returning to her position as CTO.
The announcement solidifies a new board composition with Bret Taylor, former Salesforce CEO, as chair, Larry Summers, former Clinton Treasury Secretary, and original member Adam D’Angelo, also Quora’s co-founder and CEO. Speculation had earlier surfaced about Altman’s departure being influenced, in part, by concerns about D’Angelo’s potential conflict of interest, as OpenAI was working on a potential competitor to Quora’s Poe service—Quora offers OpenAI’s ChatGPT and GPT-4, among other text-generating AI models.
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 30, 2023
D’Angelo’s unexpected presence on OpenAI’s new board prompted Altman to address the notable development. Altman explained on X that “Quora is a significant customer of OpenAI, and we found it valuable to have customer representation on our Board.” Altman clarified that D’Angelo had consistently been transparent about the potential conflict of interest and was willing to take necessary actions, including stepping down from the board if required. Regarding his departure from the original board, Altman stated, “It is clear that there were real misunderstandings between me and members of the board.”
Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s co-founder and chief scientist, was a former board member reportedly involved in Altman’s removal. Sutskever expressed regret for his role in the decision and openly supported Altman’s return as CEO. Altman, in his public message, emphasized having no ill feelings toward Sutskever and mentioned ongoing efforts to enable Sutskever to continue his work at OpenAI.
In the official announcement, OpenAI’s new Chair, Bret Taylor, assured that the company is committed to “strengthening the governance structure” and establishing “an independent committee of the Board to oversee a review of the recent events” to ensure the organization’s stability.