Sam Altman is returning as CEO of OpenAI only days after the out entrepreneur was ousted from the ChatGPT company.
Altman was fired by the company's board on Friday last week in what has been described as a "coup," but on Tuesday, the company and Altman announced his return, as well as a reorganization of the board that fired him.
The move appeared to be a victory for Microsoft, which has an estimated $10 billion stake in OpenAI and reportedly received only a few minutes of warning of the move canning Altman. The company had publicly defended Altman and agreed to hire him to create a new internal research group at Microsoft in the days after his firing.
The OpenAI board will be led by new members Bret Taylor, former CEO at Salesforce and former chair of X/Twitter before Elon Musk’s acquisition, and former U.S. Treasury Secretary and Harvard academic Larry Summers, who will join current board member and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.
Altman was let go on Friday following a stunning announcement by OpenAI that an internal review found he “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”
Co-founder and former president Greg Brockman immediately resigned from the company in protest of the move. A near mutiny followed word of Brockman’s departure, with most of the company’s 770 employees signing a letter threatening to quit and suggesting they would join Altman at Microsoft unless he was rehired and the directors resigned.
OpenAI employees threaten to quit
"Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI," the letter stated. "We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement, and care for our mission and employees."