The former chief executive of OpenAI, a prominent artificial intelligence firm, has shared an image of himself at the company’s headquarters amid widespread speculation about his potential return. Sam Altman, now posting on the platform X (formerly Twitter), is depicted holding a guest identification pass, accompanied by the remark: “First and last time I ever wear one of these.”
Altman, 38 years old, played a crucial role in the establishment of OpenAI, the organization behind the widely used ChatGPT bot. However, on the preceding Friday, the board ousted him, citing a loss of confidence in his leadership. Despite this, reports over the weekend have hinted at a groundswell of support from both investors and employees urging for Altman’s reinstatement.
According to information from the tech news site, The Information, Altman, and Greg Brockman, another co-founder who resigned from his role as the company’s president on Friday, were invited to OpenAI’s San Francisco headquarters for discussions on the subsequent Sunday.
The BBC has reached out to OpenAI for a statement regarding these recent developments.
Altman’s abrupt dismissal sent shockwaves throughout the industry, given his standing as one of the most influential figures in the rapidly advancing field of generative AI. In a letter released on Friday, OpenAI’s board accused him of a lack of consistent candor in communications, impeding the board’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities. The specific details of these alleged communication lapses were not disclosed.
The repercussions of Altman’s departure seem to have overshadowed the initial concerns that led to his removal. Speculation has arisen about potential fears within the board of Altman establishing a rival company and poaching OpenAI’s top talent. Reports over the weekend have suggested that his dismissal has caused discontent among current and former employees, who fear its impact on an impending $86 billion share sale.
Venture capitalist backers of the firm and tech giant Microsoft, holding a $10 billion stake in OpenAI, have reportedly joined the chorus calling for Altman’s return. The Financial Times noted that there have been tense moments in Microsoft’s Seattle headquarters, where OpenAI’s technology has been integrated into applications.
Should Altman return, some observers speculate that he may seek the establishment of a new board of directors. Dan Ives from investment firm Wedbush Securities opined that Altman is likely to be reinstated as OpenAI’s chief executive, criticizing the board’s actions as an overreach.
“I would almost call it a coup attempt, in terms of trying to get Altman out. But this is going to backfire,” Ives commented. He expects a swift resolution with Altman returning and a change in the board’s composition, highlighting Altman’s significance in the field of AI, particularly as perceived by major investors like Microsoft.
OpenAI, currently perceived as at its pinnacle with substantial investments pouring in, launched ChatGPT almost a year ago, garnering usage from millions. Altman, besides being a key figure in the company’s ascent, is considered a face of the broader AI industry. His recent ousting prompted support from Silicon Valley luminaries, such as former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who lauded Altman as a “hero” and someone who has “changed our collective world forever.”