Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, two top OpenAI executives who left the company after a dramatic board meeting on Friday, are talking to board members again about returning to the artificial intelligence startup, two people with knowledge said. of the matter.

The discussions follow an outcry after Altman, 38, was removed from his position as CEO of OpenAI. Since then, OpenAI investors and Altman supporters have pressured the startup’s board members to bring Altman back, six people with knowledge of the situation said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversations are confidential.

Microsoft, which has invested $13 billion in OpenAI, was leading the pressure campaign, one of the people said. OpenAI investors who have expressed support for Altman’s reinstatement were also willing to invest if he started a new company, something he began discussing almost immediately after he was ousted, people with knowledge of the situation said.

There is no guarantee that Altman or Brockman will be reinstated at OpenAI, the people said. Due to OpenAI’s unique structure (it is controlled by a nonprofit organization and its board has the power to govern the activities of the subsidiary, where its AI work is done), the company’s investors have no official say over what happens with the new company or who. directs it.

OpenAI, Microsoft and Thrive Capital declined to comment. The edge It previously reported that OpenAI’s board of directors was talking to Altman about the possibility of returning to the company.

The new discussions between Altman, Brockman and the OpenAI board were the latest twist in a rapidly moving drama at perhaps the world’s most high-profile artificial intelligence company.

The San Francisco startup rose to fame last year when it launched chatbot ChatGPT and showcased the power of artificial intelligence. Altman, one of the founders of OpenAI, quickly became the face of the AI ​​industry as Google, Meta and other giants raced to take the lead in the technology. But on Friday, OpenAI abruptly announced that its board had removed Altman as CEO, saying that he “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board.” The board did not provide further details.

Mr. Altman was asked to join a video meeting with the OpenAI board of directors at noon on Friday and was immediately fired, Mr. Brockman. has said. Brockman said that although he was the company’s board chairman, he did not participate in the meeting. He later said that he would leave the company.

OpenAI had six board members before Altman was ousted and Brockman left. The other four are Ilya Sutskever, founder of OpenAI; Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora, the question and answer site; Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology; and Tasha McCauley, entrepreneur and computer scientist.

Before Altman’s ouster, tensions had been rising at OpenAI as the company’s profile soared. In particular, Sutskever, a respected AI researcher, was increasingly concerned that OpenAI’s technology could be dangerous and that Altman was not paying enough attention to that risk, three people familiar with his thinking said. Sutskever also objected to what he considered his diminished role within the company.

Altman’s firing drew attention to a long-standing divide in the AI ​​community between people who believe AI is the biggest business opportunity in a generation and others who fear that moving too quickly could be dangerous.

His departure also caused a stir throughout the tech industry, where Altman is well known not only for OpenAI but for his years running Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley startup incubator. Many of OpenAI’s investors, which include Microsoft, Thrive Capital, and Sequoia Capital, did not learn of Altman’s departure until a minute before his departure was announced or after the news became public.

On Friday night, Altman and Brockman were racing to establish a new artificial intelligence company, three people familiar with the situation said. They also considered which OpenAI employees would join them. At least three other OpenAI employees have resigned in the last two days.

Altman took a break from criticizing OpenAI’s board of directors on social media, with a joke that threatened to start “exploding” or speaking candidly about the situation.

Tech investors were also quick to show their support for Altman and hinted that they would back his next company.

Alfred Lin, an investor at Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm that invested in OpenAI and Altman’s first startup, Loopt, posted on X that he was looking forward to “the next world-changing company” that Altman and Brockman would build. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, posted: “Can’t wait to see what he does next.”

While still leading OpenAI, Altman had pitched several ideas for new projects to investors and others in recent months. During a fundraising trip last month to the Middle East, Altman talked about AI-related projects, including a plan to develop custom AI chips that would compete with chip company Nvidia.

Altman also spoke with Masayoshi Son, CEO and billionaire founder of tech conglomerate SoftBank, about investing in an effort to build an artificial intelligence device with Jony Ive, Apple’s former design director.

But on Saturday afternoon, Altman and Brockman were also talking to OpenAI about a return.

Karen Weiss and Tripp Mickle contributed reports.

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