The recently ousted leader of OpenAI, Sam Altman, is set to make a surprising return to the company that terminated him just last week. In a statement released on Wednesday, OpenAI revealed an agreement in principle for Altman to resume his role as CEO, with a newly constituted board featuring former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, former US treasury secretary Larry Summers, and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.
Altman expressed his anticipation for rejoining OpenAI on the social media platform X, stating, “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.” He explained that, upon deciding to join Microsoft on Sunday evening, it became evident that returning to OpenAI was the optimal path for him and the team. Altman looks forward to leveraging the support of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and the new board to build on the strong partnership between OpenAI and Microsoft.
The previous board of directors at OpenAI, including D’Angelo, had refrained from providing specific reasons for Altman’s dismissal on Friday, prompting internal conflicts within the company and external pressure from investors. In the interim, former Twitch boss Emmett Shear was appointed as OpenAI’s CEO, while Altman took on a role at Microsoft, a major supporter of OpenAI.
Microsoft’s hiring of another OpenAI co-founder and former president, Greg Brockman, who had resigned in protest after Altman’s removal, led to a potential exodus of nearly all 770 employees, urging the board’s resignation and Altman’s reinstatement. Microsoft’s chief technology officer, Kevin Scott, assured OpenAI employees on Tuesday of roles at Microsoft matching their compensation and aligning with the collective mission.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella signaled openness to Altman’s return in a series of interviews on Monday, emphasizing the importance of resolving governance and board issues. In a post on X on Wednesday, Nadella expressed encouragement for the changes to the OpenAI board, seeing it as a crucial first step toward more stable, well-informed, and effective governance.