Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn Corp., leaves the stage after speaking during the Bridge Forum in San Francisco, California.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
LinkedIn founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman is leaving the nonprofit board of OpenAI, he announced in a post on Friday.
Hoffman cited a desire to invest in companies that use OpenAI’s software, which could cause a conflict of interest, he said in the post.
“I began to wonder: Will my position as a 501c3 board member of OpenAI potentially look like it leads to differential financial success? To be clear, since its inception, OpenAI and its board have been very careful to monitor and avoid any potential conflicts thus far” Hoffman wrote. “However, by stepping down from the board, I can proactively address any potential downstream issues for both OpenAI and all Greylock portfolio companies that I have supported.”
OpenAI is one of the leaders in the development and training of large language models, a relatively new approach in artificial intelligence that uses lots of computing power and data to produce software that can return blocks of text or responses that look like a human wrote them.
Hoffman said companies using large language models can become incredibly valuable.
“There are future trillion-dollar companies being built and invested in right now that will not only change markets, but launch new ones,” Hoffman wrote.
OpenAI gives other companies access to their AI models through a programming interface, or API. Earlier this week, it said it would charge companies using its AI about a fifth of a cent to produce about 750 words.
OpenAI has an unusual corporate structure: It was originally founded as a non-profit organization in 2015, before changing its structure in 2019 to become a for-profit company, although it says its profit is “covered” as part of its bylaws and that excess profits would flow to the company’s nonprofit arm.
The unusual structure was taken into account in Microsoft’s latest $10 billion investment in OpenAI, where the tech giant would reportedly receive a share of OpenAI’s profits until it recouped its investment. Hoffman sits on Microsoft’s board of directors.
Earlier, Tesla CEO Elon Musk left OpenAI’s board in 2018. OpenAI said at the time that Musk was avoiding conflicts with Tesla’s work on artificial intelligence.
An OpenAI representative did not return a request for comment.