OpenAI / Pexels

OpenAI has gone back on its decision to fire Co-Founder Sam Altman, opting to reappoint him as CEO on Wednesday.

The American artificial intelligence (AI) start-up behind chatbot ChatGPT, announced last week that Mr Altman had been dismissed, stating a lack of confidence in his ability to continue leading the company. His departure was closely followed by that of OpenAI President and fellow Co-Founder Greg Brockman, who quit the company immediately after.

Satya Nadella, CEO of tech giant Microsoft, one of OpenAI’s main investors, on Monday announced that Mr Altman and Mr Brockman were both being appointed. He stated that the pair were poised to lead Microsoft’s “new advanced AI research team”.

Sam Altman
Returning OpenAI CEO Sam Altman

Last Monday, local AI experts stressed that Mr Altman’s removal could be a move that “doesn’t bode well for OpenAI”, despite reported issues with regards to his suitability to lead such a high-profile company. There were also suggestions that OpenAI’s previous Board of Directors could have cited Mr Altman’s poor communication simply to justify an internal decision which would not be received well.

However, in a dramatic turn of events, OpenAI reversed the decision on Wednesday, with it announcing on X that it has reached an agreement in principle for Mr Altman to return as CEO.

The company also shared that it will have a new Board of Directors. It will feature Google Maps Co-Creator and former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor as Chair, as well as former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.

Greg Brockman / X
Greg Brockman / X

“We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you so much for your patience through this,” OpenAI continued.

Commenting on the news, Mr Altman said: “I love OpenAI, and everything I’ve done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together.”

He remarked that when he decided to join Microsoft, it was clear that it was the “best path” for him and the team.

“With the new Board of Directors and with Satya’s [Mr Nadella’s] support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft,” he concluded.

Mr Brockman also announced his return later on the same day, stating that he is “getting back to coding”.

Satya Nadella / X
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella / X

Mr Nadella remarked that Microsoft is “encouraged” by the changes to OpenAI’s Board of Directors, and the company believes it is a “first essential step on a path to a more stable, well-informed, and effective governance”.

“Sam [Mr Altman], Greg [Mr Brockman], and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OpenAI leadership team in ensuring OpenAI continues to thrive and build on its mission,” he highlighted.

“We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners,” Mr Nadella concluded.

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