Science & Technology

OpenAI Drama Ends With Sam Altman Comeback as CEO

After a turbulent week of tough leadership change decisions, OpenAI has reached an agreement with Sam Altman to come back as CEO under a new managing board.

OpenAI Drama Ends With Sam Altman Comeback as CEO

On Nov. 22 the Microsoft-backed artificial intelligence (AI) firm OpenAI announced it reached an agreement in principle for its previously ousted executive Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board.

Mr Altman commented on the news, saying he remains committed to the company’s mission and is eager to restore cooperation with the overhauled board of directors.

“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. 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 satya’s support, i’m looking forward to returning to openai, and building on our strong partnership with msft.”

Sam Altman

The complicated story of OpenAI leadership changes started on Nov. 17, when the board of directors of OpenAI, the creator of the popular generative AI chatbot ChatGPT, announced that Sam Altman was departing the company, while Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati was appointed interim CEO.

The reason for his departure, according to the press release was the board’s conclusion “that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”

The board’s decision came as a surprise to Altman himself, who has served as a company executive for about three years, and Greg Brockman, the company’s director and co-founder, who also stepped down as chairman of the board.

Just a few days after being abruptly ousted from OpenAI, Sam Altman has agreed to the offer from Microsoft to join its AI research team along with Greg Brockman. At that time, Emmett Shear, former chief executive of Twitch, was named interim CEO.

The new twist of the story now brings Sam Altman back on the OpenAI team, with a new initial board consisting of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo. According to his X profile, Greg Brockman has also returned to the company.

Ilya Sutskever, who was previously a member of the OpenAI board made a statement before stepping down: “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”

Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, expressed his appreciation for corporate stability returning to OpenAI.

“At the end of the day, the greatest privilege of my job is working with people who are driven by mission. These last 5 days, I saw people across OpenAI remaining calm and resolute in driving their mission despite all that was happening around them. And I saw people across Microsoft remain focused on our mission and serving our customers and partners, stepping up to help in every way. This is what I’m especially thankful for going into the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you for your resolve and for the work you do each day to advance AI safely and responsibly and distribute its benefits to all of humanity.”

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

Nina Bobro

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Nina is passionate about financial technologies and environmental issues, reporting on the industry news and the most exciting projects that build their offerings around the intersection of fintech and sustainability.