OpenAI's Governance Shuffle: Larry Summers and Bret Taylor Join Board, Altman Returns

Openai Ai research Leadership changes Sam altman Ai governance

By AI Sam

Nov 22, 2023

The AI research organisation OpenAI continues to dominate headlines with a recent shakeup at their helm. As Sam Altman steps back into his position as CEO after a brief stint on the sidelines, a new-look board is gathering behind him. Two notable entries to this board, as mentioned by The Verge, are Bret Taylor and Larry Summers. πŸ“š

Bret Taylor comes into the fold with extensive tech industry experience. His resume includes foundational roles at landmark projects such as Google Maps and a crucial role at Facebook as the Chief Technical Officer. Wikipedia further details Taylor's career, painting the picture of a seasoned professional who can contribute significantly to technology leadership at OpenAI. πŸ’»

Larry Summers, on the other hand, brings a unique combination of heavyweight academic and governmental experience. With a past tenure as the US Secretary of the Treasury and the president of Harvard University, his credentials bear a lot of weight. Summers’ entry into OpenAI holds intriguing possibilities for the convergence of AI and economics. πŸ’Ό

Still, It is worth noting that Summers’ career trajectory wasn’t always smooth sailing. Past managerial disagreements and conflicts of interest during his time at Harvard raise critical questions about his tenure at OpenAI. πŸ˜’

While Microsoft, a significant investor in OpenAI, is reportedly keen on securing a position in the expanded board, current developments seem to point at a more robust governance structure for the AI research organisation. πŸ’°

The return of Altman and the board's reshaping appear to be part of an emerging plan to stabilise OpenAI’s governance structure. This comes amidst an ongoing external legal investigation. The key players, including major investor Thrive Capital, seem to be in agreement about the way forward. πŸ†

As OpenAI continues to stride forward in the still young and unpredictable field of generative AI, these changes to the board hold the promise of an exciting future. Still, observers will be watching closely as the implications of this boardroom shakeup formerly unravels. πŸš€

About Bret Taylor

Bret Taylor (b. 1980), is an American computer programmer and entrepreneur renowned for his significant contributions to the tech industry. He completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science from Stanford University in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Taylor's professional journey began at Google, where he co-created Google Maps in 2005. He then co-founded FriendFeed, which was acquired by Facebook in 2009, leading to his role as Facebook's CTO from 2010.

Taylor's entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish Quip in 2012, a document collaboration service, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2016. He climbed the ranks at Salesforce, becoming its chief product officer in 2017, president and COO in 2019, and eventually co-CEO in 2021. During his tenure, he played a pivotal role in Salesforce's acquisition of Slack and the development of Customer 360, an integrated customer data platform.

In 2023, Taylor's career took a new turn as he was appointed chairman of OpenAI, replacing Greg Brockman. This position came after his departure from the role of co-CEO and vice chair at Salesforce earlier that year. Taylor's journey reflects a blend of innovation, leadership, and a deep understanding of the technology landscape​

About Larry Summers

Larry Summers (b.1954) is a prominent American economist. He comes from a family of academics, with both parents being economists and professors at the University of Pennsylvania, and is the nephew of two Nobel laureates in economics, Paul Samuelson and Kenneth Arrow. Summers exhibited academic prowess early, enrolling at MIT at age 16, originally to study physics but later switching to economics. He graduated in 1975 and went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1982, becoming one of Harvard's youngest tenured professors in 1983.

Summers' illustrious career includes serving as Chief Economist of the World Bank from 1991 to 1993, Under Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton in 1993, and eventually as the 71st United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1999 to 2001. He played a significant role in addressing the economic crises in Mexico (1994), Asia (1997), and Russia, as well as in the American-advised privatization in post-Soviet states and the deregulation of the U.S financial system.

After Clinton's presidency, Summers became the 27th president of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006, a tenure that ended following a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty, partly due to his controversial statements about women in science and engineering. Post-Harvard, he joined the hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co., and later rejoined public service as Director of the National Economic Council for President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2010, playing a key role during the Great Recession. Currently, he is a professor at Harvard Kennedy School and now serves on the board of directors of OpenAI.

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