OpenAI Return

Sam Altman Returns as OpenAI CEO With (Mostly) New Board of Directors

Four days after OpenAI’s board of directors fired CEO Sam Altman, he has returned to his position, joined by president Greg Brockman, who followed him at the door soon after. The whirlwind drama since Friday at OpenAI may subside, though the landscape looks different after the chaotic and very public series of events. Altman’s plan to head up an AI team at Microsoft with others exiting OpenAI has evaporated, and Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear’s term as OpenAI’s interim CEO ended almost before it began.

OpenAI is reforming its board, removing almost every member except Quora co-founder Adam D’Angelo, despite questions raised over whether Quora’s generative AI hub Poe means he has a conflict of interest. Former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor is now chairing the board, joined by ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. Altman shared his own happiness at returning to OpenAI on X.

The reference to Microsoft, which owns a 49% stake in OpenAI, hints at how nearly all of the almost 800 OpenAI employees had said they would leave and join Altman at Microsoft if he was not reinstated. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had said he would welcome them all but seemed satisfied with how things had been resolved.

Even Shear indicated he saw his own term ending as a positive.

There are still some questions. The place of OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever is uncertain, despite his rumored role heading up the ouster of Altman. D’Angelo, as the sole surviving board member despite the aforementioned potential conflict of interest, is notable. That Altman and Brockman didn’t see it as a dealbreaker suggests any number of scenarios. Maybe D’Angelo’s vote to fire Altman was not his true preference, and he was only using it as a way to remain in a position to bring back Altman. Perhaps he had some other bargaining chips that made his board seat safe. As Taylor and Summers are both blue chip cautious finance decisions in human form, investors and customers may feel a little more confident of OpenAI’s long-term stability.

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