A former OpenAI board member says Sam Altman's firing wasn't 'motivated by a desire to slow down OpenAI's work'

A former OpenAI board member says Sam Altman's firing wasn't 'motivated by a desire to slow down OpenAI's work'
Former OpenAI board member, Helen Toner (left) and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman (right).Jerod Harris via Getty Images; Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
  • Former OpenAI board member Helen Toner has announced her resignation.
  • Toner said that the board wasn't trying to slow down OpenAI's work by firing CEO Sam Altman.

Former OpenAI board member Helen Toner says the board wasn't trying to stifle the company's progress by removing CEO Sam Altman.

Toner, a director at Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology, announced her resignation from the board on Wednesday. She had previously voted for Altman's firing.

"Though there has been speculation, we were not motivated by a desire to slow down OpenAI's work," Toner wrote in an X post on the same day.

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Altman was briefly ousted from his position as OpenAI's chief executive.

The 38-year-old was fired on 17 November, with the board saying in a statement that Altman "was not consistently candid in his communications" with them.


The board didn't provide further details on Altman's ouster, though it was widely speculated that it was because of their concerns over his aggressive approach toward AI innovation.

The abruptness of Altman's departure, however, wasn't well received by OpenAI's employees. Nearly all of the company's staff threatened to quit unless the board resigned and Altman was reinstated.

After a chaotic few days, which saw Altman first accepting an offer to lead Microsoft's new advanced AI research team, Altman finally returned as CEO last Wednesday.

Aside from bringing back Altman, OpenAI welcomed a new initial board comprising Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo.

Taylor was announced as the new board chair. The former Salesforce executive said on Wednesday that OpenAI partner Microsoft would be given a non-voting board observer seat.


OpenAI's previous board included Toner, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley and OpenAI's chief scientist Ilya Sutskever.

Representatives for Toner and Altman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.