Sam Altman Retakes Place as Head of OpenAI

In the end, Sam Altman’s ejection from OpenAI lasted less than a week.

The artificial intelligence (AI) firm announced early Wednesday (Nov. 22) that Altman would return to the company after being removed as chief executive last Friday.

“We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo,” the company said in a post on X/Twitter. “We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you so much for your patience through this.”

Taylor is the former CEO of Salesforce while Summers served as treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton. A report Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal notes that D’Angelo, the CEO of Quora, is the only member of the previous board remaining.

A source familiar with the matter told the WSJ that the previous board and Altman agreed to hold an independent investigation into Altman’s conduct, the decision to fire him and its aftermath. The new board is expected to have at least six other members, this source said.

Altman was removed from the company on Nov. 17 after the board held a review that concluded that the CEO had not been “consistently candid in his communications with the board.”

Supporters of Altman — among them Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest investor — spent the weekend lobbying for his reinstatement. But after reaching an impasse, Altman instead took a job with Microsoft, heading its new AI research team. 

“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,” Altman wrote on X Wednesday. “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 looking forward to returning to openai, and building on our strong partnership with msft.”

Also returning is Greg Brockman, OpenAI’s president, who had stepped down in protest of Altman’s firing. 

He too posted to X with the message “we are so back” and a picture of himself and several dozen OpenAI employees.

Several hundred of those employees had apparently been ready to quit if Altman wasn’t reinstated, leading the company earlier this week to issue a memo promising that it was working to bring the former CEO back.