AI giant OpenAI had an unusual board of directors for its controlling nonprofit. Here’s who made the shocking decision to oust its cofounder and CEO.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 06: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman speaks during the OpenAI DevDay event on November 06, 2023 in San Francisco, California.
On Friday, the board of directors of the nonprofit organization overseeing AI company OpenAI shocked the tech world by firing CEO Sam Altman and removing president Greg Brockman from the board. Brockman resigned hours later.
The move was even more of a surprise given the unusual nature of OpenAI’s corporate structure: per OpenAI’s own description of its corporate structure, directors hold no equity in OpenAI or other compensation; Altman himself only held shares indirectly through a “small” investment made by Y Combinator, where he was previously president.
According to OpenAI’s corporate governance, directors’ key fiduciary duty is not to maintain shareholder value, but to the company’s mission of creating a safe AGI, or artificial general intelligence, “that is broadly beneficial.” Profits, the company said, were secondary to that mission. OpenAI first began posting the names of its board of directors on its website in July, following the departures of Reid Hoffman, Shivon Zilis and Will Hurd earlier this year, according to an archived version of the site on the Wayback Machine.