When the company's board called back Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, he was caught up in a maelstrom of emotions. Despite his initial defiance, hurt, and fury, Altman eventually accepted the offer, resuming his leadership of the AI organization.
Altman disclosed his initial reaction to the board's plan in an interview with The Verge: "It took me a few minutes to snap out of it and get over the ego and emotions to then be like, ‘Yeah, of course I want to do that.’ Obviously, I loved the firm and had poured my heart and soul into it for the last four and a half years full time, but truly for much longer with most of my time. And we're making fantastic progress on the mission that I'm most passionate about safe and helpful AGI."
Altman finally resumed his post as CEO this week, after a five-day boardroom battle. Notably, Microsoft, the company's largest shareholder, is expected to obtain a non-voting board member.
When asked about the reasons surrounding his resignation, Altman remained circumspect, frequently referring to the imminent independent investigation launched by OpenAI's new board, led by Bret Taylor. "I very much welcome that," Altman said in the interview.
In response to the widespread interest in his untimely resignation, Altman avoided getting into specifics. When asked about the alleged schism between him and the board, he said, "I don't feel ready to go talk about that yet." I believe it is critical to allow this evaluation process to proceed." Furthermore, Altman failed to comment on Ilya Sutskever's shift in opinion.
Altman recounted the complex feelings he struggled with upon his eventual return, noting how his initial reaction was one of disobedience, hurt, and rage. However, after reflecting on his commitment to the company's objective, team, and partners, Altman quickly changed his mind, deciding to return when asked by the board.
"It was incredibly fascinating. Saturday morning, some of the board members contacted me and asked if I'd be available to talk about it. And my initial emotion was one of defiance. "I'm hurt and angry, and I think this stinks," Altman told The Verge's Alex Heath.