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OpenAI CEO Altman wasn’t fired because of scary new tech, just internal politics

Enlarge / OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during the OpenAI DevDay event on November 6, 2023, in San Francisco. (credit: Getty Images)

On Friday afternoon Pacific Time, OpenAI announced the appointment of three new members to the company’s board of directors and released the results of an independent review of the events surrounding CEO Sam Altman’s surprise firing last November. The current board expressed its confidence in the leadership of Altman and President Greg Brockman, and Altman is rejoining the board.

The newly appointed board members are Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Nicole Seligman, former EVP and global general counsel of Sony; and Fidji Simo, CEO and chair of Instacart. These additions notably bring three women to the board after OpenAI met criticism about its restructured board composition last year. In addition, Sam Altman has rejoined the board.

The independent review, conducted by law firm WilmerHale, investigated the circumstances that led to Altman’s abrupt removal from the board and his termination as CEO on November 17, 2023. Despite rumors to the contrary, the board did not fire Altman because they got a peek at scary new AI technology and flinched. “WilmerHale… found that the prior Board’s decision did not arise out of concerns regarding product safety or security, the pace of development, OpenAI’s finances, or its statements to investors, customers, or business partners.”

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