Amidst internal turmoil and a workforce near-revolt, OpenAI has reached an agreement in principle for the reinstatement of Sam Altman as its Chief Executive Officer. Altman was unexpectedly fired on Friday, triggering a backlash from nearly all of OpenAI's 750 employees who threatened to resign unless he was brought back. The agreement includes the formation of a new board, with Bret Taylor, former co-CEO of Salesforce, as the chair. The new board will also feature Larry Summers, the former US treasury secretary, and Adam D'Angelo, a tech entrepreneur who played a role in Altman's initial firing.
On the X platform, OpenAI announced, "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." Altman, expressing his commitment to OpenAI, stated, "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." Despite his return, Altman has not regained his position on the board.
Microsoft, the largest investor in OpenAI, had been advocating for Altman's reinstatement. The tech giant hired Altman and Greg Brockman, who resigned as OpenAI's president, signaling Altman's de facto leadership. Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, expressed encouragement for the changes in the OpenAI board, considering it a crucial step toward stable and effective governance. The return of Altman, along with Brockman, is seen as pivotal for OpenAI's continuity and mission advancement.
Sam Altman's reinstatement follows a turbulent period that witnessed rapid CEO changes at OpenAI, with Mira Murati and Emmett Shear briefly taking on the role before Altman's return. The circumstances leading to Altman's initial firing remain opaque, with the board citing a failure to be "candid in his communications." An independent investigation into the events surrounding Altman's termination and its aftermath is reportedly underway. The departing board members include OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, Tasha McCauley, a tech entrepreneur, and Helen Toner, a director at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.