HomeNewsOpenAI proclaims latest board members and rehires CEO Sam Altman

OpenAI proclaims latest board members and rehires CEO Sam Altman

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, is once more on the table – or quite on the board.

OpenAI today announced that Altman will rejoin the corporate's board several months after losing his seat and being ousted as CEO of OpenAI.

He can be joined by three latest members: former Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former Sony Entertainment president Nicole Seligman and Instacart CEO Fidji Simo – bringing OpenAI's board of directors to seven people.

The members of the interim board – formed after Altman's firing in November – won’t resign with the appointment of Desmond-Hellmann, Seligman and Simo. Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor (current chairman of OpenAI), Quora CEO Adam D'Angelo and Larry Summers, the economist and former Harvard president, will remain of their roles on the board, as will Dee Templeton, a Microsoft-appointed board observer .

The appointment of the 4 latest board members – and the reappointment of Altman – comes after OpenAI received criticism over the all-male composition of its board and the nomination of Summers, who has a groundbreaking track record unflattering comments about women. The Congressional Black Caucus highlighted the board's lack of diversity in a letter sent in January and noted the importance of Black perspectives in developing tools to mitigate AI bias.

OpenAI's prolonged board is definitely diverse – no less than when it comes to backgrounds.

In addition to leading the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for six years, Desmond-Hellmann was previously chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, and before that, president of product development at Genentech, where she helped develop gene-specific cancer drugs. Desmond-Hellmann is a trained oncologist with specialist training in each internal medicine and medical oncology.

Seligman, a lawyer and business executive, gained national attention for her representation of Lt. Col. Oliver North throughout the Iran-Contra hearings and President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. Seligman was VC and General Counsel of Sony before rising to CEO of Sony Corporation and President of Sony Corporation of America.

As for Fidji Simo, before becoming CEO of Instacart, she was head of the Facebook app at Meta and was vp chargeable for Meta's various video, gaming and monetization efforts. Simo was also co-founder and currently president of the Metrodora Foundation, a health clinic and research institute.

“Sue, Fidji and Nicole have experience leading global organizations and coping with complex regulatory environments, including backgrounds in technology, nonprofits and board leadership,” OpenAI wrote in a blog post. “They will work closely with current board members Adam D’Angelo, Larry Summers and Bret Taylor, in addition to Sam and OpenAI senior management.”

The board expansion and Altman's reinstatement also come following an investigation by OpenAI law firm WilmerHale, which concluded that Altman's removal was a “results of a relationship breakdown and lack of trust” between Altman and the previous board – and never because of “concerns about OpenAI’s product security, pace of development, funds, or its representation to investors, customers, or business partners.”

OpenAI in a single blog entry said that throughout the investigation, WilmerHale conducted dozens of interviews with the corporate's former board of directors, current executives, consultants and other witnesses and reviewed hundreds of documents and other company actions. In the corporate's view, the previous board acted inside its rights to fireplace Altman – but Altman's conduct didn’t require removal.

“We unanimously concluded that Sam and (OpenAI President Greg Brockman) are the proper leaders for OpenAI,” Taylor said in a press release. “We recognize the magnitude of our role in managing transformative technologies for the advantage of the world.”

Probably not everyone at OpenAI would agree.

New York Times reporting Earlier this week painted an image of a manipulative Altman – a pacesetter who often told people what they wanted to listen to in an effort to charm them and support his decisions, but who undermined their credibility once they challenged him. Both OpenAI CTO Mira Murati and Ilya Sutskever, a former OpenAI board member and the startup's chief scientist, reached out to members of OpenAI's previous board to specific their concerns about Altman's behavior before his ouster last yr, in line with The Times .

In addition to today's board appointments, OpenAI announced that it could adopt a variety of latest corporate governance policies, including strengthening its conflict of interest policy, establishing a whistleblower hotline “to function an anonymous reporting source for all OpenAI employees and contractors.” and establishing additional board committees – including a mission and strategy committee “focused on implementing and advancing OpenAI’s core mission.”

We have reached out to OpenAI for more information on the revised Conflict of Interest Policy and Mission and Strategy Committee and can update this post as soon as we hear back.


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