OpenAI has announced the return of Sam Altman as the Chief Executive Officer, marking a significant shift in the recent tumultuous events surrounding the prominent generative artificial intelligence startup. Altman, who was previously ousted by the board of directors, will resume leadership alongside the return of co-founder Greg Brockman.
The company disclosed the development late on Tuesday in California, revealing that Altman’s reinstatement would be carried out under the oversight of a new board of directors. This fresh board will be chaired by Bret Taylor, the former CEO of Salesforce, and will include Larry Summers, the former US Treasury secretary, along with Adam D’Angelo, the CEO of Quora and an existing OpenAI board member.
The return of Altman, who co-founded OpenAI, comes after days of speculation and internal turmoil that had created a crisis within the company. Brockman, who resigned as president after Altman’s removal, is also making a comeback, though his role upon return remains unspecified.
In a statement, OpenAI outlined an “agreement in principle,” stating that Altman’s return addresses the concerns raised by employees and investors who were at odds with the previous board’s decision to remove him. The board that ousted Altman included Ilya Sutskever, another co-founder, along with Tasha McCauley, a technology entrepreneur, and Helen Toner from the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University. Sutskever, under employee pressure, switched his stance on Monday to support Altman’s reinstatement.
The new board, formed with the support of key figures such as Bret Taylor and Adam D’Angelo, signifies a resolution to the internal strife. Altman, expressing his commitment to OpenAI on social media, emphasized the importance of keeping the team and its mission intact.
Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, who owns a significant minority stake in OpenAI, expressed support for Altman and Brockman’s return, offering to hire them or back their return to OpenAI. Nadella described the changes in the board as a crucial step toward more stable and effective governance.
The agreement to reinstate Altman includes him not returning to the board, and there are ongoing discussions to finalize the details. OpenAI acknowledged the patience of stakeholders during this challenging period and assured collaborative efforts to work out the specifics. Toner, one of the departing directors as part of the deal, expressed relief, stating, “And now, we all get some sleep.”
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