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New OpenAI board takes charge, giving Microsoft observer role

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman

OpenAI has appointed a new board led by Chairman Bret Taylor, placing Microsoft in the observer role.

The company faced a recent leadership turmoil and subsequent change in governance after the sudden ouster of CEO Sam Altman.

He was reinstated after just five days when OpenAI employees threatened to leave en masse.

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Chairman Bret Taylor said the three-member board will set up an independent committee to review the events leading to Altman’s unexpected firing.

Taylor, Altman, and CTO Mira Murati said OpenAI’s top priority is reassuring its stakeholders, including employees, customers, and investors, about its future.

The board has acknowledged the need to address concerns raised by employees, users, and companies leveraging OpenAI's technology.

Read More: OpenAI Researchers Turn Down Salesforce CEO’s Job Offers

Microsoft will take on "observer" role

A critical move involves incorporating an observer role for Microsoft on the board. 

Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI with a substantial $13 billion investment, was blindsided by the abrupt CEO change. 

The observer role, which will be nonvoting, signals a willingness to involve key investors in the company's decision-making processes. 

This decision could be pivotal in determining how OpenAI handles governance and investor relationships moving forward.

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The board's swift actions include plans to hire new directors promptly and engage external counsel to investigate Altman's removal independently. 

The goal is to stabilize the organization and instill confidence in its stakeholders. 

Taylor, the board's chairman and a seasoned executive with experience at Salesforce and Twitter, notes the need to address the concerns raised by OpenAI's employees, users, and partners.

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The outgoing board, whose decision to dismiss Altman triggered significant unrest, cited concerns about Altman's consistency in dealing with the board without divulging specific details. 

In a note to employees, Altman expressed gratitude to numerous advisers and partners and commended the loyalty exhibited by OpenAI's workforce. 

Despite the tumultuous events, OpenAI did not lose customers during this period.

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