Altman Returns To OpenAI

Sam Altman and Greg Brockman rehired by OpenAI board after less than one week

OpenAI President Greg Brockman, who is returning to OpenAI alongside Altman, with the OpenAI team at the company's offices. Photo by Greg Brockman.

By Josh Levin
Published November 22, 2023 | Updated May 13, 2024 at 11:03 am

OpenAI has reached “an agreement in principle” to rehire their former chief executive, Sam Altman, the company announced this morning.

“We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you so much for your patience through this,” OpenAI wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Following Altman’s firing last week, more than 700 of OpenAI’s approximately 750 employees signed a letter calling for the board to rehire him and step down. Signers included Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati, who the board initially appointed as interim CEO, and Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever, who served on the board when they removed Altman.

Greg Brockman, who resigned as president of OpenAI after he was removed as chairman of the board of directors, announced that he is also returning. “We will come back stronger & more unified than ever,” he wrote in a post on X.

All but one board member, Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, has since resigned. The new board comprises Chairman Bret Taylor, Larry Summers and D’Angelo. 

Summers previously served as U.S. secretary of the treasury, director of the National Economic Council and president of Harvard University. Taylor served as chairman of Twitter’s board of directors before Elon Musk purchased the company last year. He also served as chief technology officer of Facebook and co-CEO of Salesforce.

“We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board.  We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance.” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated. Microsoft has invested a total of $13 billion in OpenAI.

Interim CEO Emmet Shear wrote in a post on X that he was happy to be part of the solution. “Coming into OpenAI, I wasn’t sure what the right path would be. This was the pathway that maximized safety alongside doing right by all stakeholders involved,” he wrote.

Altman, Brockman and other senior OpenAI employees had already accepted a role to lead a new advanced artificial intelligence research team at Microsoft. A spokeswoman for Microsoft declined to comment on the future of that team.

“Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission,” Nadella stated. “We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners.” 

Altman said that his decision on Sunday to join Microsoft was the best path forward at the time. “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,” Altman stated. “With the new board and with Satya’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with [Microsoft].”

The Terabyte Tribune will continue to cover this story as it develops.

Josh Levin is the founder and editor in chief of The Terabyte Tribune, handling all aspects of operations and coverage. He can be reached via email at [email protected]