Over the past year, OpenAI has been a prominent player in the artificial intelligence (AI) landscape. Last week, the company’s board of directors made headlines by deciding to remove co-founder and CEO Sam Altman, citing his inconsistency in communication with the board.
The structure of OpenAI’s board of directors is relatively unique. The company’s for-profit, commercial arm is governed by the board of OpenAI’s non-profit 501(c)3 arm. Founded as a nonprofit in 2015, OpenAI underwent restructuring in 2019 to create a commercial arm, allowing for fundraising while preserving the nonprofit’s mission. OpenAI gained public attention following the release of ChatGPT.
Following Altman’s removal, the board has been grappling with an employee revolt and ongoing discussions about Altman’s potential return. Emmett Shear was appointed as the new interim CEO after the initial interim CEO, Mira Murati, who called for the board’s resignation over its handling of Altman’s ouster.
The board may undergo restructuring in the future, as both Shear and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, a major investor in OpenAI, have expressed openness to reforming its governance structure. Altman and former board president Greg Brockman were both board members before last week’s shakeup.
The current board of directors includes OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, and independent directors such as Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, tech entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Helen Toner of the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology. The board members and OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Here’s a closer look at the remaining board members:
Ilya Sutskever (Chief Scientist): Co-founder of OpenAI in 2015, Sutskever served as research director and now holds the position of chief scientist. He leads OpenAI’s “Superalignment” project, dedicated to ensuring AI systems remain non-harmful to humanity.
Adam D’Angelo (Independent Director): CEO of Quora, D’Angelo co-founded the platform in 2009. He joined the OpenAI board in 2018 and was part of the reorganization to facilitate fundraising.
Tasha McCauley (Independent Director): An OpenAI board member since 2018, McCauley is also the CEO of GeoSim Systems, a geospatial tech company specializing in 3D city modeling. She holds degrees in electrical engineering and robotics.
Helen Toner (Independent Director): Director of strategy and foundational research grants at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) for the past five years. Toner, like McCauley and D’Angelo, is not an employee of OpenAI and holds an uncompensated role on the board.
In the aftermath of Altman’s removal, Ilya Sutskever expressed regret for his participation in the board’s actions and pledged to work towards reuniting the company. The situation remains dynamic, with ongoing discussions and potential reforms on the horizon.