OpenAI Pledges Improved Governance Structure Following Sam Altman’s Ouster

Estimated read time 3 min read

The announcement comes at the close of an external probe into Altman’s leadership, which OpenAI’s board of directors sought after he was abruptly ousted from the company in November.

He was back as chief executive after a hectic saga that threatened to sabotage OpenAI. When he returned, Altman agreed to a probe into his leadership. A Thursday report from The New York Times suggested OpenAI chief technology officer Mira Murati raised concerns about Altman’s leadership with board members prior to his removal.

Murati disputed the report and shared a Slack message on X that was earlier sent to OpenAI staff. The message said that she and Altman “have a strong and productive partnership” and that she has “not been shy about sharing feedback with him directly.”

OpenAI did not release the full investigative report, which was done by law firm WilmerHale, but said the board ultimately expressed full confidence in Altman’s ongoing leadership at the tech company.

The 418-word section of the blog post offered little insight into the next steps for OpenAI. Still, the company did say it was adopting “important improvements” to its government structure, including a new set of corporate guidelines, a strengthening of its conflict of interest policy, a whistleblower hotline, and the creation of additional board committees.

Following the November shake-up, OpenAI’s board was left with a shrunken board, which courted criticism for its lack of diversity. (OpenAI is unique in that a nonprofit board oversees its for-profit company.)

The company appeared to be addressing those concerns in its announcement of three female additions to its board on Friday.

James Park, a law professor and corporate governance expert at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Business Insider that the expansion of OpenAI’s board is a “positive step” as it will essentially provide more eyes on the leader.

“Additional independent directors will help monitor Altman and keep him in check,” Park said. “They will watch him closely and in light of the allegations that were made against him.”

The Times reported how some leaders at the company questioned Altman’s management style and how he would manipulate others to get what he wanted, citing people familiar with events that led to the board’s decision in November.

OpenAI has tapped Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Nicole Seligman, former EVP and Global General Counsel of Sony, and Fidij Simo, CEO and Chair of Instacart, to join the board.

“The new members have experience in leading global organizations and navigating complex regulatory environments, including backgrounds in technology, nonprofit and board governance,” the Friday announcement said.

Desmond-Hellmann also serves on the board of directors at Pfizer and on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; Seligman is on the board of directors at Paramount Global, Meira GTx, and Intuitive Machines, Inc.; Simo is on the board at Shopify.

The three women join current OpenAI board members Adam D’Angelo, Larry Summers, and Bret Taylor, as well as Altman.