UPDATED 11:35 EST / NOVEMBER 30 2023


OpenAI reinstates Altman as CEO with changes to the governing board

OpenAI announced that Sam Altman (pictured) was officially reinstated as chief executive and that the company will have a new non-profit board, including a non-voting observer from Microsoft Corp.

The announcement came Wednesday in a blog post written by Altman two weeks after the previous board oversaw his sudden departure from the company amid claims that he “was not consistently candid.”

Altman said the new initial board will consist of Bret Taylor, the former co-CEO of Salesforce Inc. who will serve as chairman; Larry Summers, the former U.S. treasury secretary; and Adam D’Angelo, the CEO of question-and-answer site Quora Inc., who served on the previous board.

Ilya Sutskever, co-founder and chief scientist of OpenAI, will not retain his seat on the board was originally involved in voting Altman out, but later expressed regret for his actions. Altman said in his letter that he felt “zero ill will” toward Sutskever for his actions and was “discussing how he can continue his work at OpenAI.”

A prominent addition to the board of directors that was not part of the company’s governance previously will be a nonvoting observer from Microsoft Corp. The company has invested almost $13 billion in the capped-profit company and holds a 49% stake, so having an observer on the board is a way for Microsoft to keep an eye on its investment given the corporate drama that happened. Microsoft has not detailed who that person will be yet.

In the wake of Altman’s reinstatement, Mira Murati, who became interim CEO for a brief time, will return to her previous role as chief technology officer.

Altman said that going forward the company will prioritize advancing research in safety efforts, continuing to improve and deploy products and improve governance. It came out during the whirlwind of events that led to Altman’s firing from the AI startup that the company had discovered a potential breakthrough in AI technology that “could threaten humanity” as part of the journey towards building general artificial intelligence known as Q*, pronounced “Q-star,” that would have human-like reasoning skills.

It is not known if board had seen the document before Altman left the company. However, the necessity to build AI responsibly has been taken center stage globally as AI models continue to become more complex and deeply integrated into the lives of everyday people and across critical systems.

“Bret, Larry, and Adam will be working very hard on the extremely important task of building out a board of diverse perspectives, improving our governance structure and overseeing an independent review of recent events,” Altman wrote.

Taylor penned his own letter in the same blog post saying that his intent is to “build a qualified, diverse Board of exceptional individuals whose collective experience represents the breadth of OpenAI’s mission.”

Additionally, Taylor added that he intends to convene an independent committee of the board that will review recent events that led to a sudden ouster of the CEO without consulting major investors. During the tumultuous proceedings, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was reportedly shocked and angry at the firing, having heard about the ouster until after it had happened. Altman himself agreed to an internal investigation of the events leading to his dismissal, Bloomberg previously reported.

“OpenAI is a more important institution than ever before. ChatGPT has made artificial intelligence a part of daily life for hundreds of millions of people,” Taylor wrote. “We understand the gravity of these discussions and the central role of OpenAI in the development and safety of these awe-inspiring new technologies.”

Photo: OpenAI

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