OpenAI’s interim chief executive officer Mira Murati plans to re-hire her ousted predecessor Sam Altman and former President Greg Brockman in a capacity that has yet to be finalised, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Murati, who was installed on Friday after the board fired Altman, is negotiating with Adam D’Angelo, the CEO of Quora Inc., who is acting as a representative of the OpenAI board, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private and remain fluid.
Brockman, who was also a board member, quit in protest hours after Altman’s departure.
Even as Murati works to bring Altman and Brockman back, members of the OpenAI board are also seeking to hire their own CEO to succeed Altman, a person with direct knowledge of the search said.
Picking a different CEO would come as a stinging rebuke to investors, led by Microsoft Corp. and Thrive Capital, who have urged the board to step down and want Altman reinstated.
Board members of San Francisco-based OpenAI have reached out to at least two prominent executives in the technology industry in hopes one would take the role, the person said, asking not to be identified divulging private overtures.
The parallel efforts — one to reinstate Altman and other to name his successor — underscore the deep divisions at OpenAI, the developer of the popular ChatGPT chatbot.
Altman was stripped of his roles as CEO and director by directors led by OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever.
Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board,” the board said.
Altman, who spearheaded efforts to transform OpenAI from a nonprofit into a commercially viable business, clashed with board members who were concerned he was moving too quickly, without sufficient concern to the safety implications of a technology that, left unchecked, could create content capable of harming the public.
In a statement over the weekend, OpenAI chief operating officer Brad Lightcap said that safety was not the primary reason the board fired Altman, and credited a “breakdown in communications.”
Investors were given next to no advance warning that Altman would be forced out and grew outraged over the decision to remove an executive who has demonstrated success in introducing new, widely used products and lining up billions of dollars in venture and corporate funding.
Executives including Murati have sided with investors in the push to bring Altman back.
Aside from Sutskever and D’Angelo, the current board includes tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.
There’s no guarantee the board will find a suitable CEO, and it’s unclear what role, if any, Altman and Brockman, will ultimately take.