Newly ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and former president Greg Brockman are meeting with executives at the company’s San Francisco headquarters now as discussions about possibly reinstating their positions continue, The Information reports. Per The Information, interim CEO Mira Murati and others have been leading the push to get Altman reinstated as CEO, and invited the two to HQ on Sunday. Altman and Brockman showed up for talks this afternoon, sources told The Information.
Around the time of the report’s publication, Altman tweeted a photo of himself wearing a guest badge for entry into the building, writing, “first and last time i ever wear one of these (sic)” — which could be interpreted several different ways, at this point. Sources told The Verge that Altman has set a 5PM PT deadline for board members to reach an agreement that could ultimately determine whether he walks away from OpenAI, or they do.
After Altman was fired without warning on Friday, Brockman stepped down in solidarity, along with a slew of senior researchers. Other staff members have reportedly pledged to resign as well and follow the two to other projects, signaling their support on social media, according to The Verge. The state of Altman’s position — and OpenAI’s future leadership — has remained up in the air this weekend as backlash against the board’s initial decision grows. On Saturday evening, The Verge broke news that the board was considering reinstating him as CEO, and had “agreed in principle” to resign if so. But, the board reportedly couldn’t make up its collective mind in time, and missed the deadline that had been set for the decision.
According to Bloomberg, that’s at least in part because they’ve hit a brick wall in trying to agree on what the board will look and what its role will be if he’s reinstated. Altman reportedly wants the existing board gone if he’s to return, among other “governance changes” — including making former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor a board member and possibly bringing on a Microsoft executive, Bloomberg reported, though the latter has not yet made a decision.
There has been much speculation over the reason behind Altman’s removal as CEO and from the OpenAI board of directors, which came as a surprise to Altman, staff, and investors. An internal memo sent that morning to staff and seen by Axios said that the decision to unseat Altman came as the result of “a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board.” It “was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices,” the memo from COO Brad Lightcap said.
Altman was fundraising for a custom AI chip project codenamed “Tigris” prior to his unexpected firing, Bloomberg reported. Per Bloomberg and The New York Times, which previously reported on his plans for other AI ventures, Altman has already pitched the idea of custom Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) that would rival NVIDIA’s to potential investors in the Middle East. He was also reportedly looking for backers to fund his hardware collaboration with former Apple designer, Jony Ive, for which he approached SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son. Sources with knowledge of the discussions told Bloomberg that Altman is trying to raise “tens of billions of dollars” to get these projects off the ground.