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Sam Altman to return as OpenAI’s CEO

The OpenAI saga appears to have come full circle, with the company announcing that it had agreed “in principle” that it will be once again led by its soon-to-be-no-longer former CEO, Sam Altman.

user icon Daniel Croft
Thu, 23 Nov 2023
Sam Altman to return as OpenAI’s CEO
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Last week saw Altman ousted from the company, with the board saying the reason was due to a lack of honesty when communicating with the board; however, it did not give a specific reason, resulting in a roller-coaster of internal disputes over the weekend.

“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.

“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”

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Now, after being hired by OpenAI’s main backer Microsoft, and almost 95 per cent of the AI giant’s staff threatening to walk, the board has announced plans for Altman to return.

“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,” the company said on X (formerly Twitter).

Taylor, who will chair the board, is the former co-CEO of Salesforce, while Summers is the former US Treasury secretary, and D’Angelo was formerly the CEO of Quora.

Altman is excited to return to his role, having said on X: “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 w [sic] Satya’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with [Microsoft].”

Prior to his re-hiring, Altman had expressed interest in rejoining OpenAI provided there was a shake-up with the board.

The AI giant’s staff had also called for the board to resign, threatening that if it didn’t, they would follow Altman to Microsoft.

“Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” the staff expressed in an open letter to the four remaining OpenAI board members, first seen by tech publication WIRED.

“We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgment and care for our mission and employees.

“We, the undersigned, may choose to resign from OpenAI and join the newly announced Microsoft subsidiary run by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.

“We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign … and [reinstate] Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.”

The board has yet to set a date for Altman’s return.

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