Sam Altman returns as CEO OpenAI


Sam Altman will return as CEO of OpenAI, overcoming an attempted boardroom coup that sent the company into chaos over the past several days. Former president Greg Brockman, who quit in protest of Altman’s firing, will return as well.

The company said in a statement late Tuesday that it has an “agreement in principle” for Altman to return alongside a new board composed of Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo. D’Angelo is a holdover from the previous board that initially fired Altman on Friday; he remains on this initial small board to give the previous board some representation.

A source with direct knowledge of the negotiations says that the sole job of this initial board is to vet and appoint a new formal board of up to 9 people that will reset the governance of OpenAI. Microsoft will likely have a seat on that expanded board, as will Altman himself.

Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella have both now tweeted about the deal to return, which appears to be a done deal minus some last minute paperwork. When asked what “in principle” means, an OpenAI spokesperson said the company had “no additional comments at this time.”

Altman’s return is even more shocking than his sudden exit on Friday. OpenAI’s nonprofit board seemed resolute in its initial decision to remove Altman, shuffling through two CEOs in three days to avoid reinstating him. Meanwhile, the employees of OpenAI revolted, threatening to defect to Microsoft with Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman if the board didn’t resign.

During the whole saga, the board members who opposed Altman withheld an actual explanation for why they fired him, even under the threat of lawsuits from investors. On Sunday, a key member of the board, Ilya Sutskever, flipped back to Altman’s camp, leaving the remaining three board members more vulnerable. We are told interim CEO Emmett Shear, appointed by the board to replace the previous interim CEO Mira Murati, threatened to resign unless the board could provide documentation or evidence of wrongdoing to support Altman’s firing, which seems like the move that ultimately caused the board to restart negotiations in earnest.


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