“Breaking News: OpenAI Welcomes New Board Members and Reinstates CEO Sam Altman!”

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, has a seat at the table — or board, rather — once again. OpenAI today announced that Altman will be rejoining the company’s board of directors several months after losing his seat and being forced out as OpenAI’s CEO. Joining alongside him are three members, former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former Sony Entertainment president Nicole Seligman and Instacard CEO Fidji Simo — bringing OpenAI’s board to seven people. Seligman was Sony’s VC and general counsel before rising through the ranks to CEO of Sony Corporation and president of Sony Corporation of America. Both OpenAI CTO Mira Murati and Ilya Sutskever, a former OpenAI board member and the startup’s chief scientist, approached members of OpenAI’s previous board to express concerns about Altman’s behavior prior to his ouster last year, according to The Times.

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, is back at the table – or rather, the board – again.

“I’m excited to rejoin OpenAI’s board of directors and continue contributing to the company’s mission of advancing artificial intelligence for the benefit of all,” Altman said in a statement.

This announcement comes months after Altman’s departure from the board and his removal as OpenAI’s CEO. Joining Altman are three new members, all with diverse backgrounds and impressive resumes: former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former Sony Entertainment president Nicole Seligman, and Instacard CEO Fidji Simo. This brings OpenAI’s board to a total of seven members, with the existing members remaining in their positions.

“We are thrilled to welcome Sue, Nicole, and Fidji to our board. Each brings a unique perspective and valuable experience in leading global organizations and navigating complex regulatory environments,” OpenAI wrote in a blog post announcing the new additions.

The decision to expand the board and reinstate Altman comes after OpenAI faced criticism for its previously all-male board and the nomination of economist and former Harvard president Larry Summers, who has a history of controversial remarks about women. This prompted a letter from the Congressional Black Caucus addressing the lack of diversity on the board and the importance of diverse perspectives in developing AI tools to address bias.

However, with the addition of these four new board members, OpenAI’s board is now much more diverse in terms of background and expertise.

  • Sue Desmond-Hellmann brings a wealth of experience, having previously served as chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco and president of product development at Genentech. She is also an oncologist, board-certified in both internal medicine and medical oncology.
  • Nicole Seligman is a well-respected attorney and corporate director, known for representing Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings and President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. She has also held leadership positions at Sony Corporation and Sony Corporation of America.
  • Fidji Simo, the CEO of Instacart, is a former head of the Facebook app at Facebook and VP of video, games and monetization. She also co-founded The Metrodora Foundation, a health clinic and research institute.

“Sue, Nicole, and Fidji have extensive experience in leading global organizations and navigating complex regulatory environments, making them valuable assets to our board,” OpenAI wrote. “They will work closely with current board members Adam D’Angelo, Larry Summers, and Bret Taylor, as well as with Sam and OpenAI’s senior management.”

The expansion of the board and Altman’s reinstatement follows an investigation by the law firm WilmerHale, which was hired by OpenAI to look into his departure. The investigation concluded that Altman’s ouster was due to a “breakdown in the relationship and loss of trust” between him and the previous board, as reported by the Associated Press. During the investigation, WilmerHale interviewed numerous individuals, including members of the previous board, current executives, advisors, and other witnesses, as well as reviewing thousands of documents and corporate actions.

However, not everyone at OpenAI may agree with the decision to bring Altman back.

“What I’ve learned and what Sam and I have been doing lately is talking about what ‘Samland’ is going to look like and openly admitting that we’re not anywhere close to what I think a real community looks like today,” OpenAI CTO Mira Murati said in an interview with The New York Times, referring to Altman’s leadership.

The New York Times also reported that Ilya Sutskever, a former OpenAI board member and the company’s chief scientist, had expressed concerns about Altman’s manipulative behavior to members of the previous board prior to his ouster last year. This paints a picture of Altman as a leader who may have prioritized his own interests over the company’s, undermining those who challenged him.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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