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Report: OpenAI Board in Talks With Sam Altman for Possible Return

Talks are reportedly underway to negotiate a return of recently ousted CEO Sam Altman to OpenAI.

Altman, OpenAI interim CEO Emmett Shear and at least one member of the OpenAI board, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, are participating in the discussions, Bloomberg reported Tuesday (Nov. 21), citing unnamed sources.

The participation of at least one board member is significant because the directors had largely refused to communicate with Altman over the weekend after ousting him from the company on Friday, according to the report.

Some of OpenAI’s investors are also participating in the talks, as many investors have been pushing for Altman’s return, the report said.

The deliberations are ongoing, private and may not result in the return of the ousted CEO, per the report.

Among the possible scenarios that have been discussed are the return of Altman as CEO, the addition of Altman as a director on a transitional board, and the appointment of former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor as a director on a new board, according to the report.

Some hope to resolve the leadership situation before Thanksgiving, so that employees have greater certainty about the status of their jobs over the holiday, the report said.

It was reported Tuesday that several other tech giants have made attempts to hire away OpenAI employees amid the turmoil around the company. Microsoft, Salesforce, NVIDIA and Meta’s Fundamental AI Research (FAIR) are among the companies that have reached out to the firm’s employees over social media.

At the same time, OpenAI has reportedly been in “intense discussions” to calm staff. The company is working to unify employees after more than 500 of its 770 workers signed an open letter threatening to quit if the board did not resign and reinstate Altman. Mutually acceptable options are being considered and these talks are scheduled to resume Wednesday (Nov. 22).

Beyond that, some OpenAI investors are reportedly considering legal action in response to the Friday firing of Altman. Such action would target the firm’s board, as investors worry that they could lose hundreds of millions of dollars if OpenAI were to collapse after enjoying a year-long reign as the flagship AI startup.