Key Players in OpenAI Boardroom Drama – The New York Times

On November 17, Silicon Valley was thrown into turmoil when Sam Altman, CEO of popular AI startup OpenAI, was suddenly ousted by the company’s board. After a five-day roller coaster ride that highlighted the increasingly heated battle over the future of artificial intelligence, Mr. Altman was reinstated and a new board was formed. Here’s a list of the players in the biggest tech drama of the year:

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Sam Altman, CEO and Founder of OpenAI: Mr. Altman co-founded OpenAI in 2015 with Elon Musk and several others as a nonprofit laboratory while also serving as president of Y Combinator, a powerhouse startup incubator in Silicon Valley. He took over as CEO in 2018, turned the lab over to a for-profit company and soon raised $1 billion in funding from Microsoft.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Greg Brockman, President and Founder of OpenAI: After dropping out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Brockman was chief technology officer at Stripe, an online payment company that Mr. Altman helped found. He was among 12 founders of OpenAI and said the lab will develop AI that is free from the corporate constraints that drive Google and other tech giants.

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Ilya Sutskever, chief scientist and founder of OpenAI: Dr. Sutskever was among three University of Toronto researchers who sparked the AI ​​boom in 2012 when they published a paper showing that machines could learn to identify objects in images with surprising accuracy. After joining Google, he left to co-found OpenAI with Mr. Altman, Mr. Brockman and others.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Mira Murati, Chief Technology Officer of OpenAI: Ms. Murati joined OpenAI in 2018 and later became its Chief Technology Officer. As four board members of OpenAI – Dr. Sutskever, Adam D’Angelo, Helen Toner and Tasha McCauley — decided to remove Mr. Altman as executive director, they asked Ms. Murati to briefly serve as interim executive director.

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Adam D’Angelo, board member of OpenAI: As a student at Phillips Exeter Academy, he built an online music player with Mark Zuckerberg, later the founder of Facebook. After serving as chief technology officer at Facebook from 2006 to 2008, he founded the question-and-answer site Quora. He joined OpenAI’s board in 2018 and remains CEO of Quora.

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Helen Toner, former board member of OpenAI: Ms. Toner joined the Board in 2021. She has ties to Effective Altruism, a community of people who believe that AI could one day destroy humanity. She is also director of strategy at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, a think tank, where she writes on national security issues. She left the board as part of an agreement to bring Mr. Altman back to the company.

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Tasha McCauley, former OpenAI board member: Ms. McCauley is an adjunct senior management scholar at the RAND Corporation, one of the country’s oldest think tanks, and a member of the UK board of Effective Ventures, a coalition of organizations dedicated to effective altruism. In 2015, she attended a landmark AI security summit in Puerto Rico alongside Mr. Musk and others. She also left the OpenAI board when Mr. Altman returned.

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Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft: Mr. Nadella met Mr. Altman in 2018 at the Sun Valley conference, often referred to as “summer camp for billionaires.” The following year, Mr. Nadella and Microsoft agreed to invest $1 billion in OpenAI. Since then, they have invested another $12 billion.

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Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb: Mr. Chesky’s company is another technology start-up that Mr. Altman helped found. After Mr. Altman was forced out of OpenAI — and decided he would find a way to return to the company — Mr. Chesky was among the many friends and colleagues who helped make it happen.

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Emmett Shear, former CEO of Twitch: Mr. Shear founded Justin.tv, another startup that Mr. Altman helped found. He later served as CEO of Twitch, a company that grew out of Justin.tv. He is among those who believe that AI could one day destroy humanity. Mr. Shear also briefly served as interim CEO of OpenAI.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Bret Taylor, new CEO of OpenAI: Mr. Taylor is the former co-chief executive of Salesforce.com and another former chief technology officer of Facebook. He was also chairman of Twitter when Mr Musk bought the company. As part of the agreement to bring Mr. Altman back to OpenAI, Mr. Taylor joined the OpenAI board and assumed the chairmanship.

Credit…David Degner for The New York Times

Lawrence H. Summers, new OpenAI board member: Mr. Summers is one of the country’s best-known economists. He served as treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and commented on AI’s potential to displace workers. But his reputation has suffered over the years. When he was president of Harvard, he said that women may lack an inherent aptitude for math and science.

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Ron Conway, Silicon Valley investor: Mr. Conway is a well-known venture capitalist and long-time friend of Mr. Altman. Together with Mr. Chesky, he helped convince Mr. Altman to make his way back to OpenAI. This week he sent a text message to Mr. Altman urging him to silence speculation about why he was removed from the OpenAI board.


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