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 also return. In a statement late Tuesday, the company said it has an “agreement in principle” for Altman to return alongside a new board.
Sources close to the negotiations have said the primary duty of the new board is to vet and appoint an expanded board of up to 9 people that will reset the governance of OpenAI. Microsoft, which has invested over $10 billion into the company, wants to sit on that expanded board, as does Altman himself, to avoid any more surprises.
As of Monday morning, Nadella had announced that Sam Altman and fellow OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, who quit the startup Friday after Altman’s ouster, would join Microsoft to lead a new AI research division.
However, hundreds of OpenAI employees, nearly the company’s entire staff, threatened to leave, potentially for Microsoft, if the company’s board didn’t resign and reinstate Altman as CEO.
Ultimately, Microsoft and Altman appear to be the big winners from the entire saga. Altman will continue leading the firm he helped found, now with a board that supports his vision more.
One of OpenAI’s other big investors, Thrive Capital, called the return of Altman “the best outcome for the company, its employees, those who build on their technologies, and the world at large.”