Sam Altman rejoins OpenAI as CEO after mass-exodus threat loomed over company

OpenAI announced on Tuesday an agreement for Sam Altman to reclaim his role as CEO after recent upheavals, marking the end of heated discussions about the startup’s future in the AI industry.

Alongside Altman’s reinstatement, the company has tentatively agreed to reconstruct parts of its board that previously removed him. Bret Taylor, former co-CEO of Salesforce, and Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, will join current director Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora, according to OpenAI.

Altman expressed his anticipation for his return in a post on X, remarking, “I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI.”

His comeback concludes a tumultuous period that saw Altman initially agreeing to transition to Microsoft, OpenAI’s financial supporter, to lead a new research team. This move followed the board’s rejection of his first attempt to return, when ex-Twitch boss Emmett Shear was named interim CEO on Sunday.

In a post on X, Shear celebrated the late-night resolution on Tuesday, acknowledging the “~72 very intense hours of work” that led to it.

Altman’s dismissal had created uncertainty for both OpenAI and Microsoft, prompting swift action from the latter to mitigate the situation by committing to hire Altman and Greg Brockman, the startup’s president.

Brockman, who had resigned after Altman’s removal, shared on X that he was “getting back to coding tonight.”

A letter revealed that nearly all of OpenAI’s 700-plus staff had threatened to depart unless the board resigned and reinstated Altman and Brockman.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella welcomed the changes in OpenAI’s board in a statement on X, emphasizing, “We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance.”

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