Posts with «board & management changes» label

Sheryl Sandberg is leaving Meta’s board

Sheryl Sandberg is leaving Meta’s board of directors after 12 years, ending her last official role with the company. In a post on Facebook, she said that “this feels like the right time to step away” and that she would continue to advise the company.

Sandberg spent 14 years as Meta’s COO and Mark Zuckerberg’s top lieutenant and 12 years on the company’s board. Her role as board member will officially end in May. “After I left my role as COO, I remained on the board to help ensure a successful transition,” she wrote. “Under Mark's leadership, Javi Olivan, Justin Osofsky, Nicola Mendelsohn, and their teams have proven beyond a doubt that the Meta business is strong and well-positioned for the future, so this feels like the right time to step away.”

Meta hasn’t commented on who may take over the board seat. During her time with Meta, Sandberg was known for leading the company’s multibillion-dollar ad business. According to Axios, revenue grew 43,000% during her tenure. But her status within the company had changed in recent years as Zuckerberg embraced the metaverse, which doesn’t currently have a clear path for an advertising business.

“Your dedication and guidance have been instrumental in driving our success and I am grateful for your unwavering commitment to me and Meta over the years,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook. “I look forward to this next chapter together!”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Apple's iPhone designer is leaving to work with Jony Ive and Sam Altman on AI hardware

Apple's designer exodus continues as product design chief Tang Tan is leaving the company and joining Jony Ive's design firm LoveFrom, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. There, he'll reportedly work on a new artificial intelligence hardware project backed by OpenAI's Sam Altman with aim of creating devices deploying the latest deep learning technology. 

Tan was in charge of design for Apple's main products including the iPhone, Watch and AirPods, so his departure leaves a sizable hole. As part of LoveFrom, Tan will act as hardware design lead for the new AI project, with Altman providing the software running underneath. All products are supposedly in the early concept phases, with a focus on devices for the home. None of the parties (OpenAI, LoveFrom or Apple) have commented on the news. 

It was already known that Tan would be likely be leaving Apple, but it hadn't yet been revealed where he'd go. Earlier this year, Jony Ive's successor Evans Hankey left the company after just a few years in the product design chief role. In all, about 14 members of Ive's former team have left Apple since 2019, with only a half dozen or so remaining. Ive worked as a consultant for Apple until 2022, and more than 20 former Apple employees have joined Ive under LoveFrom. 

Altman was recently fired (and then rehired) by OpenAI, in part because he was raising funds for other endeavors. One of those was the team-up with Ive to create AI hardware backed by Softbank, according to a previous Bloomberg report

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Microsoft joins OpenAI board as Sam Altman returns as CEO

Following Sam Altman's rollercoaster of a return as OpenAI's CEO, the company announced that it will now include Microsoft as a non-voting observer on its board. The question remains as to why the firm's largest investor wasn't on its board in the first place, but this seems to be somewhat addressed for now, at least. Altman is joined by co-founder Greg Brockman who resumes his role as President, whereas Mira Murati, who very briefly served as interim CEO throughout the drama, will return to her role as CTO.

The announcement also confirms a new board consisting of former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor (chair), former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and original member Adam D'Angelo, who is also Quora's co-founder and CEO. It was earlier rumored that Altman's exit was partly influenced by D'Angelo's seeming conflict of interest, as OpenAI was developing a potential competitor to Quora's Poe service — the latter offers OpenAI's ChatGPT and GPT-4, along with several other text-generating AI models.

I recognize that during this process some questions were raised about Adam’s potential conflict of interest running Quora and Poe while being on the OpenAI Board. For the record, I want to state that Adam has always been very clear with me and the Board about the potential…

— Sam Altman (@sama) November 30, 2023

D'Angelo's presence on OpenAI's new board came as a surprise, and Altman took to X to address the elephant in the room. "Quora is a large customer of OpenAI and we found it helpful to have customer representation on our Board." The exec added that D'Angelo "has always been very clear... about the potential conflict and doing whatever he needed to do," including offering to leave the board, if necessary. As to why the original board wanted Altman out, he said "it is clear that there were real misunderstandings between me and members of the board."

OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever was a former board member who allegedly led the ouster of Altman. The exec later openly admitted that he "deeply regret my participation in the board's actions" (with Elon Musk begging for attention in his thread), and he had since voiced his support for Altman's return as CEO. In his open message, Altman says "I harbor zero ill will towards him," and that his team is figuring out a way to let Sutskever continue his work at OpenAI.

In the same official announcement, OpenAI's new Chair, Taylor, assured that the company will "enhance the governance structure," and put together "an independent committee of the Board to oversee a review of the recent events," for the sake of the organization's stability.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Sam Altman is said to be in talks with the OpenAI board about a possible return

Even though it seemed that former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman would lead a new AI research division at Microsoft, he might still get his old job back. According to Bloomberg, the OpenAI board — which caused chaos at the company when it fired Altman on Friday — has reopened discussions with the former chief executive regarding his possible reinstatement.

The talks are said to involve board member (and Quora CEO) Adam D’Angelo as well as OpenAI investors, some of whom have been pushing for Altman's return. According to the report, board members "largely refused to engage" with Altman until Monday, so these latest talks are said to be a significant development.

Meanwhile, Kevin Scott, Microsoft's chief technology officer, said that his company will match the compensation OpenAI workers are currently receiving if they jump ship. Most of the company's workers have threatened to walk unless the OpenAI board resigns and reinstates Altman and former president Greg Brockman (who resigned in protest over the board booting out Altman). They warned the board on Monday that Microsoft is willing to hire them too, and Scott has confirmed that.

“To my partners at OpenAI: We have seen your petition and appreciate your desire potentially to join Sam Altman at Microsoft’s new AI Research Lab,” Scott wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Know that if needed, you have a role at Microsoft that matches your compensation and advances our collective mission.”

To my partners at OpenAI: We have seen your petition and appreciate your desire potentially to join Sam Altman at Microsoft’s new AI Research Lab. Know that if needed, you have a role at Microsoft that matches your compensation and advances our collective mission.

— Kevin Scott (@kevin_scott) November 21, 2023

It's unclear whether Scott's offer is contingent on Altman officially joining Microsoft, as CNBC notes. In any case, OpenAI workers may not have too much trouble finding a new job if they resign, as many tech companies are battling to hire AI experts. For instance, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said that any OpenAI researcher who has quit will receive matching salary and equity if they join his company.

Meanwhile, in interviews he gave after saying Altman and Brockman were joining his company on Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reiterated that he wants to keep working with OpenAI. However, he noted "that depends on the people of OpenAI staying there or coming to Microsoft. So I’m open to both options, but one thing I will not do is stop innovating." Nadella also said that “At this point, I think it’s very clear that something has to change around the governance" at the ChatGPT operator.

After Altman's sudden firing, he and Brockman spent the weekend in crunch talks with the OpenAI board in an effort to get their jobs back. Those initial talks proved unsuccessful, and the board has appointed former Twitch chief executive Emmett Shear as interim CEO. 

The OpenAI board has declined to share the exact reasoning for its decision to fire Altman, though it claimed that he had not been "consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities." After he took the reins, Shear said he'd bring in an independent investigator "to dig into the entire process leading up to this point and generate a full report.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

What is going on with OpenAI and Sam Altman?

It’s been an eventful weekend at OpenAI’s headquarters in San Francisco. In a surprise move Friday, the company’s board of directors fired co-founder and CEO Sam Altman, which set off an institutional crisis that has seen senior staff resign in protest with nearly 700 rank-and-file employees threatening to do the same. Now the board is facing calls for its own resignation, even after Microsoft had already swooped in to hire Altman’s cohort away for its own AI projects. Here’s everything you need to know about the situation to hold your own at Thanksgiving on Thursday.

How it started

Thursday, November 16

This saga began forever ago by internet standards, or last Thursday in the common parlance. Per a tweet from former-company president Greg Brockman, that was when OpenAI’s head researcher and board member, Ilya Sutskever, contacted Altman to set up a meeting the following day at noon. In that same tweet chain (posted Friday night), Brockman accused the company of informing the first interim-CEO, OpenAI CTO Mira Murati, of the upcoming firings at that time as well:

- Last night, Sam got a text from Ilya asking to talk at noon Friday. Sam joined a Google Meet and the whole board, except Greg, was there. Ilya told Sam he was being fired and that the news was going out very soon.

- At 12:19PM, Greg got a text from Ilya asking for a quick call. At 12:23PM, Ilya sent a Google Meet link. Greg was told that he was being removed from the board (but was vital to the company and would retain his role) and that Sam had been fired. Around the same time, OpenAI published a blog post.

- As far as we know, the management team was made aware of this shortly after, other than Mira who found out the night prior.

Friday, November 17

Everything kicked off at that Friday noon meeting. Brockman was informed that he would be demoted — removed from the board but remain president of the company, reporting to Murati once she’s installed. Barely ten minutes later, Brockman alleges, Altman was informed of his termination as the public announcement was published. Sutskever subsequently sent a company-wide email stating that “Change can be scary,” per The Information.

Later that afternoon, the OpenAI board along with new CEO Murati addressed a “shocked” workforce in an all-hands meeting. During that meeting, Sutskever reportedly told employees the moves will ultimately “make us feel closer."

At this point, Microsoft, which just dropped a cool $10 billion into OpenAI’s coffers in January as part of a massive, multi-year investment deal with the company weighed in on the day’s events. CEO Satya Nadella released the following statement:

As you saw at Microsoft Ignite this week, we’re continuing to rapidly innovate for this era of AI, with over 100 announcements across the full tech stack from AI systems, models and tools in Azure, to Copilot. Most importantly, we’re committed to delivering all of this to our customers while building for the future. We have a long-term agreement with OpenAI with full access to everything we need to deliver on our innovation agenda and an exciting product roadmap; and remain committed to our partnership, and to Mira and the team. Together, we will continue to deliver the meaningful benefits of this technology to the world.

By Friday evening, things really began to spiral. Brockman announced via Twitter that he is quitting in protest. Director of research Jakub Pachocki and head of preparedness Aleksander Madry announced that they too are resigning in solidarity.

How it’s going

Saturday/Sunday, November 18/19

On Saturday, November 18, the backtracking begins. Altman’s Friday termination notice states that, “Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”

The following morning, OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap wrote in internal communications obtained by Axios that the decision “took [the management team] by surprise” and that management had been in conversation “with the board to try to better understand the reasons and process behind their decision.”

“We can say definitively that the board’s decision was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices,” Lightcap wrote. “This was a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board … We still share your concerns about how the process has been handled, are working to resolve the situation, and will provide updates as we’re able.”

A report from The Information midmorning Saturday revealed that OpenAI’s prospective share sale being led by Thrive Capital, valued at $86 billion, is in jeopardy following Altman’s firing. Per three unnamed sources within the company, even if the sale does go through, it will likely be at a lower valuation. The price of OpenAI shares has tripled since the start of the year, and quadrupled since 2021, so current and former employees, many of whom were offered stock as hiring incentives, were in line for a big payout. A payout might not be coming anymore.

On Saturday afternoon, Altman announced on Twitter that he would be forming a new AI startup with Brockman’s assistance, potentially doing something with AI chips to counter NVIDIA’s dominance in the sector. At this point OpenAI’s many investors, rightly concerned that their money was about to go up in generative smoke, began pressuring the board of directors to reinstate Altman and Brockman.

We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett…

— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 20, 2023

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella reportedly led that charge. Bloomberg’s sources say Nadella was “furious” over the decision to oust Altman — especially having been given just “a few minutes” of notice before the public announcement was made — even going so far as to recruit Altman and his cohort for their own AI efforts.

Microsoft also has leverage in the form of its investment, much of which is in the form of cloud compute credits (which the GPT platform needs to operate) rather than hard currency. Denying those credits to OpenAI would effectively hobble the startup’s operations.

Interim-CEO Mira Murati’s 48-hour tenure at the head of OpenAI came to an end on Sunday when the board named Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as the new interim-CEO. According to Bloomberg reporter Ashley Vance, Murati had planned to hire Altman and Brockman back in a move designed to force the board of directors into action. Instead, the board “went into total silence” and “found their own CEO Emmett Shear.” Altman spent Sunday at OpenAI HQ, posting an image of himself holding up a green “Guest” badge.

“First and last time i ever wear one of these,” he wrote.

Monday, November 20

On Monday morning, an open letter from more than 500 OpenAI employees circulated online. The group threatened to quit and join the new Microsoft subsidiary unless the board itself resigns and brings back Altman and Brockman (and presumably the other two as well). The number of signatories has since grown to nearly 700.

Breaking: 505 of 700 employees @OpenAI tell the board to resign.

— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) November 20, 2023

Doesn’t look like that will be happening, however — despite Sutskever’s early morning mea culpa. The board has already missed its deadline to respond to the open letter, Microsoft has already hired away both Altman and Brockman and Shear has already been named interim-CEO.

Shear stepped down as CEO of Twitch in March, where he led the company for more than 16 years and has been working as a partner at Y Combinator for the past seven months. Amazon acquired the live video streaming app in 2014 for just under $1 billion.

“I took this job because I believe that OpenAI is one of the most important companies currently in existence. When the board shared the situation and asked me to take the role, I did not make the decision lightly,” Shear told OpenAI employees Monday.

“Ultimately I felt that I had a duty to help if I could,” he added.

Shear was quick to point out that Altman’s termination was “handled very badly, which has seriously damaged our trust.” As such he announced the company will hire an independent investigator to report on the run-up to Friday’s SNAFU.

“The board did *not* remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that,” Shear continued. “I’m not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercializing our awesome models.”

Following his departure to Microsoft on Monday, Alman posted, “the OpenAI leadership team, particularly mira brad and jason but really all of them, have been doing an incredible job through this that will be in the history books.”

“Incredibly proud of them,” he wrote.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Cruise co-founder resigns following CEO exit

Cruise, the self-driving car company owned by General Motors, confirmed to Reuters that its co-founder and chief product officer Daniel Kan has resigned. Kan’s departure comes just a day after the company’s CEO Kyle Vogt announced his resignation on X after a 10-year tenure. Kan is said to have announced his resignation over Slack, however, the reasoning for his departure has not been made clear by the company.

The company’s executive reshuffling follows a public relations nightmare that started last month when a Cruise robotaxi hit a pedestrian in San Francisco and pinned them under the vehicle. The parent company, GM, is still conducting a safety probe on the accident and both autonomous and manual vehicle operations at Cruise remain suspended. The company’s public image has been reeling from the accident ever since, and about 950 robotaxis had to be recalled by GM. The California DMV suspended Cruises’ driverless permits shortly after, and that ruling has remained in place.

(1/6) We learned today at 10:30 am PT of the California DMV’s suspension of our driverless permits. As a result, we will be pausing operations of our driverless AVs in San Francisco.

— cruise (@Cruise) October 24, 2023

In a recent tweet, Cruise said that the company is focused on taking steps “to rebuild public trust.” Things have yet to look up for the company, especially after an expose by The Intercept revealed that the company knew its self-driving cars have trouble recognizing children and large holes in the roads. Furthermore, the former CEO said that the company would have to lay off an undisclosed number of employees and staff members in a memo.

Cruise has not made any statements about finding replacements for either its CEO or chief product officer as of yet. The New York Times reports that “instead of installing a new chief executive” General Motors has appointed two new members to the company board and Mo Elshenawy, Cruise’s executive vice president of engineering, will take up the role of President.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Most of OpenAI's staff threatens to quit unless the board resigns and reinstates Sam Altman as CEO

The OpenAI chaos took another twist on Monday morning as most of the company's staff threatened to quit unless the board resigns and reinstates former CEO Sam Altman and ex-president Greg Brockman. According to Wired and Kara Swisher, around 500 employees — including several executives — signed the letter. 

Swisher noted that OpenAI has 700 employees. Several of them, including Chief Technical Officer Mira Murati (who held the company's top job on an interim basis for less than a weekend), wrote on X early Monday that "OpenAI is nothing without its people."

Breaking: 505 of 700 employees @OpenAI tell the board to resign.

— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) November 20, 2023

The letter to the board is the latest development in a series of events that started on Friday afternoon, when OpenAI's board fired Altman. The board claimed Altman had not been "consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities." As such, the board felt it no longer had "confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI." Brockman told OpenAI staff in an email on Friday that he was resigning as chairman "based on today's news." 

Chief Operating Officer Brad Lightcap later said in a leaked internal memo that Altman was sacked due to “a breakdown in communication,” not “malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices,”

Altman and Brockman held crunch talks with OpenAI's board over the weekend in an attempt to be reinstated in their former roles. But those discussions did not work out in the former CEO's and chairman's favor. It emerged late Sunday night that the board had instead opted to hire former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as OpenAI's interim chief executive.

This story is developing; please refresh for updates.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Sam Altman will not be returning to OpenAI

Talks over reinstating co-founder and former CEO Sam Altman at OpenAI have apparently broken down. According to The Information and Bloomberg, the board has now hired Altman's fellow Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear as OpenAI's new interim CEO. This appointment was apparently announced internally by co-founder and board director Ilya Sutskever.

Altman was originally fired from OpenAI over "a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board," according to an oddly blunt internal staff memo published by Axios earlier. The news was subsequently followed by resignations from several key members, including co-founder Greg Brockman (who was ousted as the chairman of the board), along with a few senior researchers.


This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Sam Altman and Greg Brockman are meeting with OpenAI execs now at HQ in ongoing talks over reinstatement

Newly ousted OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and former president Greg Brockman are meeting with executives at the company’s San Francisco headquarters now as discussions about possibly reinstating their positions continue, The Information reports. Per The Information, interim CEO Mira Murati and others have been leading the push to get Altman reinstated as CEO, and invited the two to HQ on Sunday. Altman and Brockman showed up for talks this afternoon, sources told The Information.

Around the time of the report’s publication, Altman tweeted a photo of himself wearing a guest badge for entry into the building, writing, “first and last time i ever wear one of these (sic).”

first and last time i ever wear one of these

— Sam Altman (@sama) November 19, 2023

After Altman was fired without warning on Friday, Brockman stepped down in solidarity, along with a slew of senior researchers. Other staff members have reportedly pledged to resign as well and follow the two to other projects, signaling their support on social media, according to The Verge. The state of Altman's position — and OpenAI’s future leadership — has remained up in the air this weekend as backlash against the board’s initial decision grows. 

On Saturday evening, The Verge broke news that the board was considering reinstating him as CEO, and had “agreed in principle” to resign if so. But, the board reportedly couldn’t make up its collective mind in time, and missed the deadline that had been set for the decision

According to Bloomberg, that’s at least in part because they’ve hit a brick wall in trying to agree on what the board will look and what its role will be if he’s reinstated. Altman reportedly wants the existing board gone if he’s to return, among other “governance changes” — including making former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor a board member and possibly bringing on a Microsoft executive, Bloomberg reported, though the latter has not yet made a decision.

There has been much speculation over the reason behind Altman’s removal as CEO and from the OpenAI board of directors, which came as a surprise to Altman, staff, and investors. An internal memo sent that morning to staff and seen by Axios said that the decision to unseat Altman came as the result of “a breakdown in communication between Sam and the board.” It “was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices,” the memo from COO Brad Lightcap said.

Altman was reportedly fundraising for a custom AI chip project codenamed “Tigris” prior to his unexpected firing, Bloomberg reported. Per Bloomberg and The New York Times, which previously reported on his plans for other AI ventures, Altman has already pitched the idea of custom Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) that would rival NVIDIA’s to potential investors in the Middle East.

Altman was also reportedly looking for backers to fund his hardware collaboration with former Apple designer, Jony Ive, for which he approached SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son. Sources with knowledge of the discussions told Bloomberg that Altman is trying to raise “tens of billions of dollars” to get these projects off the ground.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

OpenAI potentially considering reinstating its freshly-ousted CEO Sam Altman

Following his surprise firing on Friday, currently-former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman might not be as out of a job as we initially thought he was, according to new word from The Verge on Saturday. Reportedly, sources close to Altman say that the board itself, in a stunning reversal, have "agreed in principal" to resign while reinstating him to his former position. However, the board has has since reportedly missed a 5pm PT deadline regarding the decision.

Shortly after Altman's firing on Friday afternoon, several senior staffers — including former Chairman and President Greg Brockman, Director of Research Jakub Pachocki, Head of Preparedness Aleksander Madry and Senior Researcher Szymon Sidor — tendered their resignations in protest. More departures are reportedly still incoming as of publication of this story. Numerous additional OpenAI staffers were set to quit in solidarity at that meeting. They're reportedly willing to follow Altman, a la Jerry Maguire, to a new AI startup venture should he decide to launch one. 

An internal memo circulated after Altman's dismissal argued that his termination was not related to "malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices,” per Axios' reporting.

Sam and I are shocked and saddened by what the board did today.

Let us first say thank you to all the incredible people who we have worked with at OpenAI, our customers, our investors, and all of those who have been reaching out.

We too are still trying to figure out exactly…

— Greg Brockman (@gdb) November 18, 2023

Microsoft is a major investor in the OpenAI venture — having injected some $13 billion into the project's coffers this past January as part of a long term partnership between the two. It maintains the "utmost confidence" in OpenAI interim-CEO Mira Murati, and "remains confident" in the partnership overall. 

Despite those assurances, rank-and-file employees were given little notice prior to the official announcement going out (Altman himself receiving even less) of the change in leadership. Altman had, in the days leading up to his termination, remained an active supporter and recruiter for the firm, appearing at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum less than a day prior to his firing. 

According to the New York Times, neither Altman nor Brockman are guaranteed a return to power, largely on account of the company's non-profit origins, which preclude investors from directing company-wide decisions. They instead leave those choices to members of the board itself. Altman and Brockman were both members of the OpenAI board. However, with their departures, only lead researcher, Ilya Sutskever; Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo; director of strategy at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology Helen Toner; and computer scientist Tasha McCauley remain members — at least, through the weekend.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at