Exit & return of Sam Altman: This is how tech honchos reacted

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Exit & return of Sam Altman: This is how tech honchos reacted

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS) The dramatic set of events in the exit and return of Sam Altman as OpenAI's CEO began on November 17 when the company's Board of Directors fired him in a sudden development, saying, "It no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.” After five days, amid several twists and turns, he returned to the ChatGPT maker, with an entirely new Board.Following Altman's exit, President and Co-founder of OpenAI Greg Brockman had quit the company. More than 500 employees threatened to resign and join Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ).

Midway, Altman was offered a position by Microsoft's Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella to pursue its advanced AI research in the company.

The micro-blogging site X became the centre stage where the saga of Altman's exit and return unfolded -- from OpenAI’s post announcing Altman’s removal to its reinstatement. Several tech leaders took to the platform to express their thoughts on those dramatic developments.

Eric Schmidt, the tech investor and former CEO of Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL ), posted, "Sam Altman is a hero of mine. He built a company from nothing to $90 billion in value, and changed our collective world forever."

"I, and billions of people, will benefit from his future work -- it's going to be simply incredible. Thank you @sama for all you have done for all of us," he added.

Chris Anderson, the head of TED, compared Altman’s move to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL )'s firing of Steve Jobs in 1985.

"I'm stunned by this. OpenAI firing @sama feels like Apple firing Steve Jobs. Who has the real story? Please, we need to know!"

Brian Chesky of Airbnb has praised him as "one of the best founders of his generation."

Matt Wolfe, who describes himself as a "builder" of an AI tools website FutureTools.io, wrote, "I didn't see that coming. I actually thought he was an excellent and balanced ambassador for tech."

Vijay Anand, popularly known as ‘The Startup Guy’, who has been working to help create a startup ecosystem in India, said it is irony that "we have stifling on one side and on the other hand CEOs that are too smart and commit frauds and siphon money out and the Board watches helplessly."

While the reactions kept pouring in and the saga continued, Twitch's ex-CEO Emmett Shear was appointed as the interim CEO of OpenAI. One would think that the tale ends here, but soon after that, adding another twist to the story, Altman rejoined as CEO.

Upon Altman's return to OpenAI, the people's reactions were equally noteworthy. Shear himself said that he was deeply pleased by OpenAI's final decision of hiring Altman back.

"I am deeply pleased by this result, after 72 very intense hours of work. Coming into OpenAI, I wasn’t sure what the right path would be. This was the pathway that maximised safety alongside doing right by all stakeholders involved. I’m glad to have been a part of the solution," he wrote.

Nadella, on this development, said, "We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI Board. We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance."

"Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission," he added.

Elon Musk, who was one of the co-founders of OpenAI along with Altman in 2015, commented on a user's post, "OpenAI being (semi) independent is probably better for the world than merging with Microsoft. Less concentration of power."

The Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) and SpaceX CEO earlier said that if Altman returns as CEO, the Board will be gutted.

Meanwhile, Brockman has shared a picture with his team on X following his and Altman's ultimate return to the company, saying, "We are so back."

(Shrey Srivastava can be reached at shrey.s@ians.in)

--IANS

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