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Is the circus now over? Employees threatened to quit if OpenAI's board didn't resign.

Edward Gately

November 22, 2023

3 Min Read
Co-founder and CEO Sam Altman back at OpenAI
Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock

After several days of chaos and upheaval, Sam Altman is returning to AI research and deployment company OpenAI as CEO after his abrupt ouster late last week.

Altman’s removal came after a deliberative review process by OpenAI’s board concluded he was not consistently candid in his communications with them, hindering their ability to exercise their responsibilities. The board determined that they no longer had confidence in Altman’s ability to lead OpenAI.

OpenAI confirmed it has rehired Altman in a late-night X post:

“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. We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you so much for your patience through this.”

View post on Twitter

CEO and Co-Founder Confirms Return on X

Minutes later, Altman posted:

“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 [Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s] support, I'm looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.”

Related:OpenAI Board Ousts Co-Founder and CEO Sam Altman in Surprise Move

OpenAI's Sam Altman

And shortly after, Nadella posted this on X:

“We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board. We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed and effective governance. Sam, Greg [Brockman] and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OpenAI leadership team in ensuring OpenAI continues to thrive and build on its mission. We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners.”

View post on Twitter

Brockman, OpenAI's president, quit when Altman was fired, but has now returned.

Taylor is former co-CEO of Salesforce and Summers is former Treasury Secretary. D’Angelo is co-founder and CEO of Quora.

Altman was suddenly ousted from his OpenAI role on Nov. 17 (the board later rethought its decision, creating a flurry of chaos).

After Altman was fired, hundreds of OpenAI employees, including co-founder and board member Ilya Sutskever, signed a letter demanding that remaining board members resign or they would leave, according to CNBC.

Altman briefly was replaced by Mura Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer. However, Emmett Shear, who left as CEO of Amazon’s streaming service Twitch in March, stepped in as interim CEO, according to CNN.

Related:OpenAI Drama Goes Big Over the Weekend, Microsoft Wins

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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