Sam Altman is making a return to OpenAI as its Chief Executive Officer, marking the conclusion of a week-long series of intense discussions and negotiations following Altman’s abrupt dismissal from the AI startup last week.
OpenAI, currently the most valuable startup in the United States, has disclosed that an “agreement in principle” has been reached for Sam Altman to be reinstated. The startup is concurrently restructuring its board, removing several members who faced considerable criticism for their controversial decision last week.
The newly configured board at the AI startup will include former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor, former US Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, and Quora founder Adam D’Angelo. Bret Taylor is set to assume the role of board chair, according to a statement from OpenAI.
Microsoft, which holds approximately 49% ownership in OpenAI, responded with surprise to the earlier decision by OpenAI and promptly recruited Altman to lead a new AI group within the tech giant. The fallout from the board’s previous decision led to the resignation of Greg Brockman, former President of OpenAI, and numerous other team members who protested against the board’s actions.
Altman, expressing his commitment to OpenAI, stated, “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 Microsoft on Sunday evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. With the new board and with Satya’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.”
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, who had expressed disappointment in the earlier decision by the OpenAI board, shared his encouragement regarding the changes in the board structure. Nadella emphasized the importance of these changes as a crucial step toward more stable and effective governance.
“We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance. Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission,” stated Nadella. He also affirmed Microsoft’s commitment to strengthening its partnership with OpenAI and delivering the value of the next generation of AI to customers and partners.
The earlier OpenAI board, comprising figures like chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, independent directors Adam D’Angelo, Tasha McCauley, and Helen Toner, faced intense public scrutiny for their decision, prompting some investors to explore legal action against the board members.
Emmett Shear, former Twitch CEO and interim leader of OpenAI, expressed satisfaction with the revamped decision, stating, “Coming into OpenAI, I wasn’t sure what the right path would be. This was the pathway that maximized safety alongside doing right by all stakeholders involved. I’m glad to have been a part of the solution.”