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Altman returns as OpenAI CEO following week of shakeups

Embattled CEO returns, board of directors to be remade

(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

After nearly a week’s worth of shakeups at OpenAI, the dust is beginning to settle with Sam Altman victorious. Ousted by a coup on behalf of the board of directors, Altman, co-founder of the company, quickly found himself with a position at Microsoft. Fellow co-founder Greg Brockman, who quit shortly after Altman’s firing, joined Altman to head a new advanced AI research team at Microsoft.

Now, Altman has returned as CEO at the company he helped create, and the board of directors that fired him is no more. “We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo,” said OpenAI on its X account last week.

“[I] love openai, and everything i’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together,” commented Altman. “when i decided to join msft on sun evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. with the new board and w [Microsoft CEO] satya’s support, i’m looking forward to returning to openai, and building on our strong partnership with msft.”



The following was originally published November 20, 2023: 

UPDATE: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Monday in an interview with CNBC, Nadella seemed willing to accept a scenario in which Altman would return to his old job, saying it’s up to the people of OpenAI to choose to stay there or go over to Microsoft. “I’m open to both options,” Nadella said. Microsoft is a major investor in OpenAI, the company behind AI text chatbot ChatGPT. Altman, according to sources cited by The Verge, wants to return to OpenAI but only under the condition that all current board members step down.

A monumental shakeup at OpenAI has resulted in Microsoft receiving two new AI experts.

Sam Altman, who has been with the company since its launch as a nonprofit in 2015, was removed as CEO last Friday. Former CEO of Twitch Emmett Shear has come on board as OpenAI’s interim CEO. Altman’s departure comes as a shock to the industry, as he has largely been seen as the spokesperson of the company and the industry as a whole. Altman delivered a keynote at the company’s DevDay conference just the week prior, and spoke before Congress earlier this year.

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“Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities,” OpenAI said in a post titled ‘OpenAI announces leadership transition.’ “The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”

Following his firing, Altman has joined Microsoft to help lead an advanced AI research team. Fellow OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman is also making the move to Microsoft, resigning after Altman’s firing. Microsoft has been OpenAI’s largest financial backer since its inception, and is the company’s largest stakeholder.

“We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella posted to X (formerly Twitter). “And we’re extremely excited to share the news that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team.”




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