Behind OpenAI's change of power: the CEO of the most special board member "American version of Zhihu" has become a key figure
In the Ultraman dismissal crisis, the American version of Zhihu Quora CEO D'Angelo played a key role on both sides.
D'Angelo is the only remaining former director on the new board and will play a central role in OpenAI's future governance.
Quora has already launched a product that competes with ChatGPT, so he needs to recuse himself when there is a conflict of interest between the two companies.
Tencent Technology News According to foreign media reports, OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research company, recently experienced the sudden dismissal and reinstatement of CEO Sam Altman, and in the process, only one person managed to play a key role on both sides, and he was Adam D'angelo (Adam D'angelo).
D'Angelo is a former Facebook executive and founder of the Q&A platform Quora. He was one of four board members who voted to fire Altman, and the only remaining former director on the AI company's newly formed board. This puts D'Angelo in a unique position to play a central role in the future governance of the company once Altman returns as CEO.
According to people familiar with the matter, in the negotiations for Ultraman's return, D'Angelo was the only director who could be agreed upon by the two sides. Management did not want all three independent directors on the original board to stay, but the original board insisted that they retain a representative under the new structure, the people said.
In the new board, D'Angelo is expected to help ensure the board actively exercises oversight powers and establishes direct contact with staff outside of the management team, the people said. He is one of three new directors who will take office, the other two being Bret Taylor, a tech veteran who served as co-CEO of Salesforce and chairman of Twitter, and Larry Summers, a former U.S. Treasury secretary and president of Harvard University. Microsoft also received a non-voting observer seat on the board.
Several people who have worked with D'Angelo say he is a principled, cautious man who often helps him make decisions by asking direct, pointed questions. D'Angelo tends to keep a low profile and rarely appears in the media, which is in stark contrast to Altman. Over the years, Altman has developed a good relationship with tech journalists.
D'Angelo is a high school classmate of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg at Exeter College in Phillips, New Hampshire, and the two work together in the inner circle of the tech industry. He's not as well-known as Zuckerberg, though.
D'Angelo was born in New York and graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in computer science. That same year, he became the chief technology officer of Facebook, which at that time had not changed its name to Meta Platforms. In 2008, D'Angelo left his job and founded Quora the following year. Not only that, but he also has a unique vision, investing in a number of startups, including Instagram before it was acquired by Meta.
D'Angelo suffered a repetitive strain injury at the age of 23 and needed to wear a wrist brace at work as a result of tying and coding too hard, people familiar with the matter said. It is reported that in the early days of Quora, D'Angelo had a quarrel with Zuckerberg, in part because Facebook decided to copy some of Quora's features, and the relationship between the two has since improved.
D'Angelo and Altman are both Silicon Valley elites in their 40s, and the two got together through Silicon Valley social circles around 2010. In 2014, Quora joined Y Combinator, a startup incubator, where Altman happened to be its president.
Altman has a very high opinion of D'Angelo, saying, "When discussing the smartest CEO in Silicon Valley, D'Angelo is one of the few names that is often mentioned. He has a very long-term vision, which has become a rare quality in today's tech companies. ”
In 2017, Quora announced that it had raised $85 million in funding, co-led by YC Combinator's YC Continuity Fund and Collaborative Fund. The deal valued the platform at over $1 billion at the time.
Altman invited D'Angelo to join OpenAI's board of directors in 2018. Previously, D'Angelo had a good relationship with OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman. Brockman resigned in protest against Altman's dismissal, and now he and Altman are back in the company.
D'Angelo wrote on Twitter at the time: "I still believe that the development of artificial general intelligence, with safety in mind, is both important and undervalued, and I am happy to contribute to it." ”
After joining the board, D'Angelo began to help other independent directors understand OpenAI's problems as a tech startup, according to people familiar with the matter. Surprisingly, D'Angelo, who had been a supporter of Ultraman, later voted for his removal. However, after Altman's return, D'Angelo took a seat on the new board.
OpenAI's board of directors is special. The company manages its for-profit subsidiary by a nonprofit organization, which in turn receives funding from investors and venture capitalists such as Microsoft. However, the board of directors is responsible for overseeing both the non-profit and for-profit sectors, and is not tied to investors and does not have to focus on maximizing shareholder value.
At Quora, where D'Angelo has been CEO since its inception, the platform says it has more than 400 million monthly users and competes with giants like Google, Reddit and Wikipedia that also help people find information online.
As an OpenAI customer, Quora also offers a product called Poe that competes with OpenAI's chatbot ChatGPT. Poe was publicly released in February of this year, and Quora describes it as a "platform designed for a seamless conversational experience, increased productivity, and creative content generation." At a recent AI event, D'Angelo said, "Most of Quora's energy is currently focused on Poe. ”
Altman posted on X on Wednesday that D'Angelo had made it clear to him and OpenAI's board that there was a potential conflict of interest between the company and Quora. However, he also mentioned that D'Angelo has taken steps to "control the situation", such as "choosing to avoid when appropriate".
So far, Altman and D'Angelo have a good relationship. On Thanksgiving, Altman posted on X that he and D'Angelo "spent a really nice few hours together" and wished them a happy Thanksgiving as a family. Soon after, D'Angelo retweeted the post. (Compiler/Golden Deer)