Sam Altman Set to Return as OpenAI CEO: Restructuring & Microsoft Partnership


Sam Altman, a prominent figure in the recent surge of artificial intelligence (AI), is set to return as the CEO of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. The company announced on Tuesday (11/21) local time that they had reached an agreement with Altman.

In a tweet from their official account today, OpenAI stated, “We’ve reached a preliminary agreement for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO, with a new initial board comprising Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo.”

The inclusion of Adam D’Angelo marks continuity from the previous board that ousted Altman, retaining representation from the former board in this initial small team.

“We’re collaborating to work out the details. Thank you for your patience throughout this,” OpenAI continued.

Sam Altman Set to Return as OpenAI CEO: Restructuring & Microsoft Partnership

Previously ousted by the company’s board on grounds of dishonest communication on Friday (11/17), Altman was replaced by Mira Murati as the interim CEO.

Following his dismissal, Altman’s loyalists reacted strongly. Former president and co-founder Greg Brockman resigned, and hundreds of other staff members threatened to leave the company.

Negotiation attempts were made over the weekend, yet an agreement remained elusive. The board appointed Emmet Shear as the interim CEO. Microsoft, a major partner of OpenAI, recruited Altman for a new AI-related division.

On Sunday (11/19), key board member Ilya Sutskever realigned with Altman, leaving three other board members more vulnerable.

Emmett Shear, according to The Verge, even threatened resignation unless the board provided documentation or evidence supporting Altman’s dismissal.

This push likely prompted the board to engage in earnest negotiations again.

Support from Microsoft

Greg Brockman, who resigned in protest of Altman’s dismissal, is also slated to return to OpenAI.

A source familiar with the negotiations stated that the sole task of this initial board is to review and appoint a new formal board consisting of up to nine individuals who will oversee a restructuring of OpenAI’s governance.

Microsoft is likely to secure a seat on this expanded board, as will Altman.

“I love OpenAI, and everything I’ve done over the past few days has been to keep this team and its mission together,” tweeted Altman.

He defended his brief stint with Microsoft, linking it to this mission.

“With a new board and support from Satya (Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft), I hope to return to OpenAI and strengthen our partnership with MSFT,” said Altman, who previously visited and conducted seminars on AI in RI.

Responding to Altman’s tweet, Nadella expressed being “encouraged by the changes in OpenAI’s board. We believe this is the crucial first step towards a more stable, informed, and effective governance.”

“Sam, Greg, and I have spoken and agreed that they have significant roles alongside the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to evolve and fulfill its mission.”

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