Is the case going to be solved? OpenAI is in turmoil, and the truth seems to be emerging.
Now, various clues indicate that the man behind this incident may be Adam D’Angelo, one of the OpenAI board members.
However, there is more to the case than that.
Soon, the second suspect, Helen Toner, was also identified. She had had a fierce dispute with Altman a few weeks before the riot.
In contrast, Ilya, who is dedicated to maintaining AI safety, is likely to be used as a gun.
“Insider” No. 1: Adam D’Angelo
Adam D’Angelo, Zuckerberg’s high school classmate, once cooperated with Zuckerberg and served as the CTO of Facebook and the CEO of the American version of Zhihu Quora. These experiences allowed him to accumulate a lot of wealth.
The biggest conflict of interest between him and Altman is that the latter suddenly announced the launch of GPTs on Dev Day without informing the board of directors in advance.
If GPTs forms a business empire, there will undoubtedly be few opportunities left for Poe that Adam is doing.
Previously, Adam was known among Quora employees for his stubbornness.
After Altman returned to OpenAI, the board of directors was hesitant about reinstating him as CEO. Perhaps the main reason was Adam.
A former Quora employee said that no employee had ever successfully persuaded Adam to change his mind.
Another former employee said that you can gain his trust quickly, but you can also lose it quickly.
At Quora, he retained just one additional board member, Benchmark friend and investor Matt Cohler.
According to foreign media speculation, the suspect who initiated this civil unrest is likely to be Adam.
After all, just a few days after the incident, Ilya regretted it, and Altman also included three red hearts in the repost, suggesting that there may not be any “deep hatred” between the two.
As for Adam’s behavior, his heart is particularly “killable”. He is recruiting other technology leaders to serve as the new head of OpenAI, such as Anthropic’s Dario Amodei.
In this way, Altman’s efforts to return can be blocked.
According to insiders, in the negotiations between Altman and the board of directors in recent days, Adam has been the toughest among the board members.
He would benefit most from firing Altman
If we follow the principle of “whoever benefits the most is the real culprit”, Adam is undoubtedly an iron wolf.
However, he is also the person in the technology circle who has been hardest hit by Altman’s dismissal.
Adam has been a member of the OpenAI board of directors for five years. Among the remaining three board members, he is the only one who is well-known to many people in the technology industry. For example, Microsoft CEO Nadella is well-known to him.
He is firmly at the core of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial circle, where people invest in each other’s companies, recommend talent to each other, and talk about the future of technology.
The events of the past few days have caused him to come under attack from his industry peers online.
Even Musk asked him to explain why the board wanted to get rid of Altman.
The huge pressure to turn things around is getting bigger and bigger.
There are now more than 700 OpenAI employees who have signed the joint letter. If Altman doesn’t come back, they will all jump ship to Microsoft and move out of OpenAI.
OpenAI investors are also preparing to sue board members. Because they stand to lose a lot if most of their employees leave.
There are “criminals” on Quora
This is not the first time Adam has made the mistake of suddenly firing executives.
At Quora, which he founded and operated for 14 years, former employees broke the news that Adam would fire executives suddenly without considering the impact on employees, and would not explain the reasons for firing executives.
One dismissal made Quora employees so dissatisfied that dozens of them went on strike the next day.
Why the board fired Altman after so many days of turmoil remains a mystery. “Not candid enough” is obviously too vague.
An OpenAI memo also clarified that Altman was not involved in any “malfeasance.”
Of course, OpenAI employees have indeed argued before about whether AI technology is being developed too fast.
When OpenAI was established in 2019, its purpose was to ensure that AI benefits mankind. This goal is more important than creating returns for investors.
Compared with the bosses who are worried that AI will bring about the end of mankind, Adam’s attitude is obviously more optimistic and he also has a favorable attitude towards the commercialization of AI.
Revenge against Altman because OpenAI blocked Poe’s path?
Adam has never tried to slow down the development of AI. Therefore, the reason for maintaining AI security does not seem to be valid.
Over the past year, he has spent a lot of energy on Poe, an AI bot browser hatched from Quora. In recent months, Adam has been traveling to various technology investors to raise funds for Poe.
However, the GPTs launched by OpenAI at the developer conference are very similar to Poe. No wonder everyone speculates that letting Altman step down is Adam’s revenge.
Adam has remained silent since the OpenAI palace battle last weekend. The only news he made was to repost a tweet from the CEO of the startup Replit, hoping that everyone would not jump to conclusions.
“I have known Adam for many years, and although I have not spoken to him recently, these ideas are all wrong, such as that he is crazy, that Poe and OpenAI’s products overlap, and that he wants revenge on Altman. Until more information comes out, it is best to It’s better not to jump to conclusions yet.”
In fact, Adam was able to join the OpenAI board of directors only because of Altman’s recommendation. He once praised: “When people mention the smartest CEOs in Silicon Valley, Adam D’Angelo is one of the names that is often mentioned.”
Altman once revealed in an interview that he often talks to Adam on the phone late at night to solve difficult problems.
The truth of the matter is still confusing, but complaints have already spread online. Angry netizens said, “I will boycott Quora from now on!”
“Insider” No. 2: Helen Toner
Of course, in addition to Adam, who is facing the tsunami of public opinion, skeptical eyes have also been cast on OpenAI’s other two independent directors – technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner of Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET). They are much less famous in the technology world.
Now, Helan Toner is suspected to be the number two “mole”.
According to foreign media reports, before Sam Altman was dismissed, he tried to lay off another director Helen Toner. At this time, conflicts among board members had actually become public.
At that time, Altman approached Toner specifically to discuss a paper she had recently written for CSET.
According to emails between Altman and Toner obtained by foreign media, Altman complained that the research paper appeared to criticize OpenAI’s efforts to ensure the safety of its artificial intelligence technology, while praising the approach taken by Anthropic.
Toner argued that it was an academic paper designed to analyze the challenges the public faces when trying to understand the intentions of countries and companies developing artificial intelligence.
But Altman disagrees: “I don’t think we agree on the harm that criticism can do. Any criticism that comes from a board member carries a lot of weight.”
According to reports, senior OpenAI leaders, including Altmen and Ilya, later discussed whether Ms. Toner should be replaced.
In the battle for lines, the one who strikes first is the one who has the upper hand.
Not long after, Altman and Brockman were expelled from the board of directors.
Hours after being ousted, OpenAI chief strategy officer Jason Kwon clashed with remaining board members in a video.
During the call, Kwon accused the board of jeopardizing the company’s future by ousting Altman and violating board members’ responsibilities.
In this regard, Toner said: “The mission of the board of directors is to ensure that the company creates artificial intelligence that is “beneficial to all mankind.” Even if the company is dissolved as a result, it is consistent with the mission of the board of directors.”
In other words, in the board’s view, OpenAI will be stronger without Altman.
Combined with foreign media reports, OpenAI’s board of directors is now considering a merger with Anthropic.
Perhaps the direct reason for the OpenAI board of directors to fire Altman was that the board finally believed that Altman’s radical commercial development direction was inconsistent with the development direction that other members of the board hoped for.
As for Anthropic, which Toner praised in the paper, its founder exited OpenAI in 2021 due to differences with the OpenAI board of directors over the development direction.
Could it be that after the founder of Anthropic left OpenAI to found Anthropic, the board of directors felt that the orthodoxy of OpenAI actually lies in Anthropic?
Sam Alman’s divine leadership
When Altman announced at OpenAI’s first developer conference on November 6 that ChatGPT’s weekly active users exceeded 100 million, no one could have imagined that he would be fired by the board of directors the next week.
Just when netizens had just come to their senses and were about to eat something, no one thought that Altman only spent one weekend to let the world see what “leadership” is!
Not only did he receive strong support from Silicon Valley’s big names who became famous in the first place, but he also won the “spokesperson election” of all OpenAI employees almost unanimously.
First, the former CEO of Google tweeted and praised him as “my hero”!
The Silicon Valley boss and the first investor in OpenAI supported him as “the first CEO to emerge in decades” and directly asked him to return to OpenAI.
Microsoft CEO urged him to join Microsoft and promised to give him “all the resources he needs to succeed.”
Later, 747 OpenAI employees jointly requested the board of directors to resign and return Altman.
Even Ilya, the board member who expelled him, signed the joint letter.
It can be said that this is the biggest “crisis” since the establishment of OpenAI. The “crisis” is borne by OpenAI investors, and the “opportunities” are all grasped by Altman alone.
I remember that in May this year, when Altman was questioned by senators on Capitol Hill, a senator asked him how much money you can get from OpenAI.
Altman replied, I don’t have any shares in OpenAI, and my salary is only enough to pay social security.
The congressman reminded him that you may be in trouble and it is best to consult a lawyer.
Unexpectedly, the congressman’s reminder was a prophetic word.
But Altman used his superpowers to turn “danger” into “opportunity”.
A person with direct knowledge of the negotiations between Altman and the OpenAI board said that Altman’s superpower is “getting people on his side, shaping the narrative, pushing situations in his favor,” but at the same time, He “cannot be supervised.”
Altman dropped out of Stanford University and has a resume typical of Silicon Valley elites.
His first startup, location-based social media service Loopt, didn’t take off. But it was enough for Y Combinator founder Paul Graham to take notice.
Graham discovered this 28-year-old unknown young man and asked him to run the most famous technology incubator in the world.
The success of Y Combinator under his leadership spawned Airbnb and payments company Stripe.
The job made Altman famous in Silicon Valley.
ALtman himself likes to support ambitious, visionary startup projects.
“Only a few people are investing in these technologies,” Alexandr Wang, CEO of Scale AI, which was valued at $1 billion, said of Altman earlier this year. “His willingness to make big, long-term bets is one of the things that makes him a great investor. .”
According to those who have worked with him, Altman’s most important qualities are his fierce ambition and his ability to gain the support of others.
Jessica Livingston, co-founder of Y Combinator, said on X: “The reason I became a founding donor of OpenAI in 2015 was not because I was interested in AI, but because I believed in Sam.”
He is described as a “mastermind” by those who know him well in Silicon Valley – “no one knows how to accumulate power better than him.”
Altman, on the other hand, has spent the past two years trying to find the best way to balance AI’s huge money-making potential with OpenAI’s original mission to ensure that the technology benefits all of humanity.
Whether Altman will return to OpenAI is still unknown, but after this battle, everyone is completely convinced of his strong influence.