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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

OpenAI’s Turnaround— Altman Rehired as CEO

The majority of the company's 770 employees threatened to quit if Altman wasn't reinstated as OpenAI's CEO.

OpenAI made a surprising announcement, revealing the reinstatement of Sam Altman as the company’s chief executive. This move came after Altman’s recent ouster by the board, sparking a whirlwind of events driven by support from his allies, employees, and investors.

The decision to bring Altman back also involved a significant overhaul of the company’s board of directors, with several members opposed to Altman being jettisoned. Adam D’Angelo, the chief executive of Quora, emerged as the sole remaining board member from the previous lineup.

OpenAI acknowledged the development in a post on social media platform X, stating they had an “agreement in principle” for Altman’s return, with ongoing collaborative efforts to finalize the details. This unexpected turn of events marked the culmination of a turbulent five days that shook OpenAI, a prominent player in the artificial intelligence landscape.

New Faces and Microsoft’s Support

The revamped board of directors at OpenAI will now include notable figures such as Bret Taylor, an early Facebook officer and former co-CEO of Salesforce, and Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary.

Adam D’Angelo, who played a pivotal role in the negotiations, will continue as a board member and act as chairman. Microsoft, OpenAI’s significant investor, expressed support for these changes.

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Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, commended the reshaped board as a “first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance.” The return of Altman, along with this influential board composition, hinted at a strategic alignment between OpenAI and Microsoft.

Altman’s Rocky History and Employee Loyalty

This recent upheaval at OpenAI was not the first time Altman found himself at the center of a leadership dispute. Previously, he faced a similar situation when Y Combinator founder Paul Graham ousted him from his position.

This episode, not widely known until now, adds to the narrative of Altman’s career marked by both triumphs and internal conflicts. The recent events also showcased the remarkable loyalty Altman commands among OpenAI’s workforce. The majority of the company’s 770 employees threatened to quit if Altman wasn’t reinstated, underscoring the pivotal role he plays within the organization.

As OpenAI navigates these transformative changes, the tech industry watches closely, curious about the implications of Altman’s return and the reshaped board on the future trajectory of the influential artificial intelligence company.