Sam Altman, co-founder of OpenAI, is set to resume his role as the company’s boss shortly after his abrupt dismissal by the board, according to an announcement by the firm.

The tentative agreement involves the appointment of new board members. Altman’s unexpected firing on Friday caused a stir in the industry, prompting staff to threaten mass resignations unless he was reinstated.

In a statement on X (formerly Twitter), Altman expressed his eagerness to return to OpenAI, emphasizing his commitment to the team’s mission. The board’s decision to oust Altman led to co-founder Greg Brockman’s resignation, creating turmoil within the prominent artificial intelligence (AI) company.

The decision to remove Altman was made by three non-employee board members—Adam D’Angelo, Tasha McCauley, and Helen Toner—as well as Ilya Sutskever, the third co-founder and chief scientist.

However, on Monday, Sutskever issued an apology on X and endorsed a staff letter urging the board to reconsider. Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, offered Altman a position to lead a new advanced AI research team.

Subsequently, OpenAI announced on Wednesday that Altman’s return was agreed upon in principle, and the board would be partially restructured.

Former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor and former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers are slated to join the board, alongside current director Adam D’Angelo. Brockman also confirmed his return to the company.

OpenAI’s interim chief executive, Emmett Shear, expressed deep satisfaction with Altman’s return after intense efforts. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella welcomed the changes to the OpenAI board as a positive step toward more stable governance. Staff reactions online have been largely positive, with optimism about the company’s future.

However, some observers believe the recent upheaval may have lasting implications for OpenAI’s reputation and potential impact on investors and recruitment.

The episode has raised questions about decision-making within the organization, given its unique structure as a non-profit with a for-profit subsidiary.

The uncertainty surrounding the reasons for Altman’s dismissal and the subsequent developments has led to calls for greater transparency from the board.

As of now, key questions remain unanswered, and the situation has sparked interest and concern within the tech community.

Last Updated: 23 November 2023