OpenAI, the pioneering AI startup responsible for ChatGPT, has unveiled its newly appointed board of directors following a tumultuous two-week period. During this time, co-founder Sam Altman was abruptly fired and then reinstated as CEO, sending shockwaves through the AI industry and prompting a near-mass departure of employees.
Additionally, OpenAI has disclosed that Microsoft, a key partner and major investor, will join the board as a non-voting observer, as part of their renewed collaboration.
The current board comprises three members: Bret Taylor, the board chair and president/COO of Salesforce; Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary and Harvard University professor; and Adam D’Angelo, the CEO of Quora and the sole remaining member from the previous board.
A notable aspect of this new board is the absence of women. The prior board included two female members, Helen Toner and Tasha McCauley, both of whom were removed after Sam Altman’s return as CEO. Altman’s letter regarding the new board appointments mentions their commitment to building a more diverse board in the future.
This development follows a series of dramatic events starting on November 18, when the previous board, excepting Altman and OpenAI president Greg Brockman, dismissed Altman as CEO, citing concerns about his leadership. The next day, Microsoft hired Altman and Brockman to lead its AI research team.
On November 20, over 500 OpenAI employees threatened to resign unless Altman was reinstated and the existing board resigned. They demanded an independent investigation into Altman’s firing and the board’s actions.
The new board faces several challenges, including advancing AI research while ensuring safety, accountability, and transparency. They must also address diversity concerns and compete with other major AI players while managing the potential risks associated with AGI.
OpenAI’s unique organizational structure consists of a non-profit foundation and a capped-profit subsidiary. The new board’s decisions will shape the future of OpenAI and the broader AI industry, as well as impact society as a whole. Restoring trust in the AI community is a priority, and tonight’s announcement represents a step in the right direction towards a unified front at OpenAI.