OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman will return as CEO just days after he was fired by the board, the firm which is the leading company in the artificial intelligence industry, said.
The agreement “in principle” involves a new board being installed, the tech company added.
It comes after Altman was sacked on Friday triggering an open letter from staff who threatened to resign unless he was reinstated. “I am looking forward to returning to OpenAI,” Altman said in a post on social media.
He added: “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.
“I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.”
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 msft on sun evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. with the new board and w satya’s support, i’m…
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 22, 2023
Last week, the board decided to remove Altman which led to co-founder Greg Brockman’s resignation, sending the star AI company into chaos.
The decision was made by the three non-employees board members, Adam D’Angelo, Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner, and a third co-founder and the firm’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever.
But on Monday Sutskever apologized on X, formerly known as Twitter, and signed the staff letter calling on the board to reverse course.
I deeply regret my participation in the board's actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we've built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.
— Ilya Sutskever (@ilyasut) November 20, 2023
Details of Sam Altman’s firing from OPenAI murky
The details of Altman’s firing and re-hiring remain murky. In its announcement of Altman’s firing, OpenAI claimed that Altman had been insufficiently “candid” with the board.
That ambiguous language sent the rumor mill flying, CNN reports. But a key factor in Altman’s ouster was the presence of tensions between Altman, who favored pushing AI development more aggressively, and members of the original OpenAI board, who wanted to move more cautiously, according to CNN contributor Kara Swisher, who spoke to sources knowledgeable about the crisis.
Microsoft, the biggest investor in OpenAI, then offered Altman a job leading “a new advanced AI research team” at the tech giant.
On Wednesday morning OpenAI detailed Altman’s return to the tech company adding it had agreed in principle to partly reconstitute the board of directors that had dismissed him.
The initial board will constitute former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, former US treasury secretary Larry Summers, and Mr Adam D’Angelo, OpenAI said.
Altman has been a prominent figure in AI research and is known for his strategic acumen. Paul Graham, founder of the venture capital firm Y Combinator, once described him as someone who could thrive in any challenging situation.
The 38-year-old had also become a spokesman for the artificial intelligence industry, appearing before Congress this year to testify about new rules for artificial intelligence.