Ilya Sutskever did not attend OpenAI's party celebrating Sam Altman's return as CEO
- Sam Altman returned Tuesday night as OpenAI's CEO.
- Relieved staff had an impromptu party at the company's San Francisco headquarters. Sutskever was absent.
OpenAI's chief scientist, co-founder, and board member who was a key participant in the sudden ouster last week of Altman, did not attend the festivities, according to two people who did. The party itself was first reported by The Information.
An OpenAI spokesperson declined to comment. A lawyer representing Sutskever, Alex Weingarten of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, who chairs its litigation practice, told BI: "You shouldn't read anything into the fact that Ilya was not at the party last night."
"Ilya wants what is best for the company and has been very clear that what is best is having Sam back as CEO," Weingarten added.
Sutskever was directly involved in Altman's abrupt removal as CEO last Friday by OpenAI's board, of which Sutskever was a member. He is the one who told Altman over a Google Meet call that he was being effectively fired. Sutskever then proceeded to address staff on Sunday, when yet another interim CEO was chosen by the board, telling employees for the first time two official explanations for why Altman was forced out at all, as BI reported. It led to an open revolt of employees, nearly all of whom were prepared to quit if Altman did not return.
As Altman continued to negotiate a possible return to the company he co-founded, as reported by The Verge and other outlets, Sutskever made his first public statement about the situation. He expressed his "regret" for taking part in what he framed as "the board's actions."
With Altman now back leading the company, a new smaller board in place, and additional members imminent, staff are unsure if Sutskever will return at all. He remains respected within OpenAI, despite his actions against Altman. One of the people referred to him as "the galaxy brain" at the company.
Another person familiar with both men thinks it is possible Sutskever could return and mend fences, however unlikely.
"If Sam thinks it's what's ultimately best for the company, that's what will happen," the person said. Greg Brockman, OpenAI's president and another co-founder who quit in solidarity with Altman, is less magnanimous, the person said. Brockman feels "extremely betrayed." But, the person noted, "If he sees the utility, he will get on board."
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