OpenAI reaches deal with Sam Altman to return as chief executive

Company’s board abruptly fired Mr Altman on Friday

Vishwam Sankaran
Wednesday 22 November 2023 06:57
<p>OpenAI CEO Sam Altman looks on during the APEC CEO Summit at Moscone West on November 16, 2023 in San Francisco, California. </p>

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman looks on during the APEC CEO Summit at Moscone West on November 16, 2023 in San Francisco, California.

OpenAI has reached a deal for ousted boss Sam Altman to return as its chief executive, the company said on Wednesday.

The artificial intelligence company said it would reinstate a board consisting of Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo.

“We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo,” the company posted on X.

The AI company’s board abruptly fired Mr Altman on Friday saying it “no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI”.

Microsoft, which has heavily invested in the AI firm, then officially announced it was hiring Mr Altman and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, who resigned on Friday.

“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,” Microsoft boss Satya Nadella said in a post on X.

Within days, OpenAI brought in the former head of Twitch Emmett Shear as interim chief.

But chaos soon erupted at the company with over 500 employees signing a letter threatening to quit unless its board resigned and reinstated their dismissed boss.

The letter was reportedly signed by several senior staff at OpenAI, including the company’s chief technology officer Mira Murati, who was appointed as the interim chief.

The announcement early on Wednesday confirms rumours that the OpenAI founder is returning to the helm of his company.

“We are collaborating to figure out the details,” the company said.

Mr Altman said on Wednesday that he is looking forward to returning to OpenAI with the support of the Microsoft chief.

“When I decided to join Microsoft on Sunday evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team,” he said adding that he is “looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.”

“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,” Mr Altman posted on X.

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