Sam Altman has a hot take on his brief ouster as OpenAI's CEO.
"I learned that the company can truly function without me," Altman told The Verge's Alex Heath.
Altman told Heath that this meant he's either "picked great leaders" or "mentored them well."
Sam Altman, the briefly fired and quickly rehired CEO of OpenAI, has a hot take about his short stint away from the company.
Speaking to The Verge's Alex Heath, Altman said he was happy to be back — and that the firing, and how OpenAI functioned in his absence, wasn't too bad after all.
"I learned that the company can truly function without me, and that's a very nice thing," Altman told Heath in a phone call on Wednesday.
Altman added that he was now back at OpenAI without the "stress" and the burden of thinking that he had to do certain things, or that he was vital to the company's survival.
"I selfishly feel good because either I picked great leaders or I mentored them well," Altman said. "It's very nice to feel like the company will be totally fine without me, and the team is ready and has leveled up."
Altman's ouster from OpenAI on November 17 came after the company's board voted to fire him, saying he was not "consistently candid in his communications" with them.
The coup against Altman lasted all of five days. He returned as CEO last Wednesday, after nearly all of the company's staff threatened to quit unless the board was axed and Altman reinstated as OpenAI's leader.
Altman told Heath that his first reaction to being asked by the board to return as OpenAI's CEO was "sort of one of defiance."
"It was like, 'Man, I'm hurt and angry, and I think this sucks,'" Altman told Heath. "And then pretty immediately I started thinking about like, obviously, I really loved the company and had poured my life force into this for the last four and a half years full time, but really longer than that with most of my time."
"It took me a few minutes to snap out of it and get over the ego and emotions to then be like, 'Yeah, of course I want to do that,'" Altman said of his return.
The biggest question that remains is why Altman was fired in the first place. During his call with Heath, Altman skirted a question on the matter, saying that the company's new board is "gonna do an independent review."
"I think it's very important to let this review process run. I'm happy to talk about anything forward looking," Altman said. "And I imagine there'll be some time where I'm very happy to talk about what happened here, but not now."
Representatives for Altman at OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.
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