Why Sam Altman was rehired as OpenAI CEO 4 days after his sacking

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Sam Altman, a co-Founder and former CEO of OpenAI was briefly fired from the position by the board of directors with no reasonable explanations given. Days after he was ousted from the position he held since 2019 and with former Twitch CEO, Emmett Shear acting as the interim CEO, Sam Altman has got his job back.

As stated earlier, the reason why the boss of the world’s most popular artificial intelligence company was fired is not clear right now though he has now agreed to an internal investigation to unravel the mystery firing. But the 38-year-old tech entrepreneur is back to his job less than five days in what many have likened to former Apple boss Steve Jobs’ debacle with the device maker.

Following his dismissal, the company’s over 700 staff protested and threatened to quit and join Microsoft after the financial backer of the AI firm briefly offered Altman a new job. President of OpenAi, Greg Brockman, resigned from his job in protest of Altman’s sacking.

Microsoft intervened too. CEO of the tech giant offered Altman a job as the co-head of a new research team alongside Brockman. Microsoft has a huge influence on OpenAI as it powers the company’s computing technology and also owns 49% of the company.

Then came the decision to reinstate Sam Altman. The company said it has “reached an agreement in principle for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board”. Sam Altman returns to his new position with an initial board that would include former Salesforce co-chief executive Bret Taylor, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, and Quora founder Adam D’Angelo. Also, the company noted that it is “collaborating to figure out the details“.

But not only Altman would be returning. Several members of OpenAI’s staff resigned including Greg Brockman, the President. Brockman joined Microsoft on Sunday just like Altman but has no said he would return to OpenAI. He took to X, former Twitter to announce his return as well, stating, “Returning to OpenAI & getting back to coding tonight”.

Responding to the decision to rehire him, Sam 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. when I decided to join Microsoft on Sunday evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. 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.”

Reacting to OpenAI’s decision to rehire Altman, Emmet shear, the interim CEO said he was “deeply pleased by this result”. He added, “after ~72 very intense hours of work. 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. I’m glad to have been a part of the solution.”

On his part, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella who offered Sam Altman and most of the people who threatened to leave OpenAI a place at the tech conglomerate said they are “encouraged by the changes”

“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. 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. We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners,” he reacted to Sam Altman’s post on X.

What is next for Sam Altman and OpenAI?

Nothing is concrete now but the idea is that the new board will work to select up to nine directors for the company. Who will be on the board is not known but that was said to be a sticking point during the negotiation to reinstate Sam Altman. One thing that has been rumoured is that Altman would not be on the board initially so that the others could work freely. Microsoft which has invested at least $11 billion in the startup will likely get a seat on the board possibly as an observer according to the Bloomberg.

There is no update on whether OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, Helen Toner, director at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology and Tasha McCauley of GeoSim Systems would have immediate future roles with the company or not.

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