Sam Altman Is Said to Be Discussing Return to OpenAI With Company’s Board

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Mr. Altman was forced out of OpenAI on Friday, leading to an outcry from his supporters and the company’s investors.

Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, two top executives at OpenAI who left the company after a dramatic board meeting on Friday, are talking again with board members about returning to the artificial intelligence start-up, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The discussions follow an outcry after Mr. Altman, 38, was ousted from his role as OpenAI’s chief executive a day earlier. Since then, OpenAI’s investors and Mr. Altman’s supporters have pressured the four board members of the start-up to bring Mr. Altman back, six people with knowledge of the matter said.

Microsoft, which has invested $13 billion in OpenAI, was leading the pressure campaign, one of the people said. OpenAI investors who have expressed support for Mr. Altman to be reinstated were also willing to invest if he were to start a new company, something he began discussing almost immediately after he was forced out, people with knowledge of the situation said.

The effort was the latest twist in a fast-moving drama at OpenAI. The San Francisco start-up rocked the world last year when it released the chatbot ChatGPT and showed the power of artificial intelligence, with Mr. Altman rapidly becoming the face of the industry. But on Friday, OpenAI abruptly announced that its board had removed Mr. Altman as chief executive.

The ouster caused waves across the tech industry, where Mr. Altman is well known not only from OpenAI but from his years leading Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley start-up incubator. OpenAI is backed by powerful investors — including Microsoft, Thrive Capital and Sequoia Capital — and many of them did not learn about Mr. Altman’s exit until a minute before his departure was announced or after the news became public.

OpenAI is controlled by a nonprofit. It had six board members before Mr. Altman was pushed out and Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president and a board member, quit in protest on Friday.

Because of OpenAI’s unique structure, its investors have no official say in what happens to the company or who leads it. But investor support is still critical for the start-up, which will need to continue raising money as it develops its technology.

OpenAI, Microsoft and Thrive Capital declined to comment.

This is a developing news story. Stay tuned for updates.

Karen Weise contributed reporting.

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