Sam Altman was fired last week in what media have described as an attempted “coup” by the company’s board members
OpenAI’s chief executive officer Sam Altman is being reinstated after being fired from the company last week, according to a statement released by the ChatGPT developer on Tuesday. Former president Greg Brockman, who quit OpenAI in protest at Altman’s firing, is said to be returning as well.
Altman, who co-founded OpenAI alongside Elon Musk in 2015, was unexpectedly sacked last Friday with board members stating that he was “not consistently candid in his communications” with them and that he was hampering their ability to supervise the company.
However, Altman’s ousting did not go down well with the company’s workforce, with nearly all of its employees signing an open letter threatening to quit unless he was reinstated and the board resigned.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday, the San Francisco-based enterprise said it had “reached an agreement in principle” for Altman’s return, adding that the company’s board of directors would also be overhauled, leaving just one former member.
“We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you so much for your patience through this,” the company wrote.
Prior to this announcement, it was believed that Altman, along with Brockman, would be moving to rival tech giant Microsoft. The company’s CEO Satya Nadella had even posted on X on Sunday that Microsoft was “extremely excited” to announce the pair’s recruitment, stating that they would be leading Microsoft’s “new advanced AI research team.”
Altman, who had also previously confirmed his decision to move to Microsoft, said on Tuesday that “I love OpenAI” and that he is “looking forward” to returning to the company and promised to build a strong partnership with Microsoft.
Meanwhile, according to the Verge, both OpenAI and Microsoft, which owns a $13 billion share in the company, have agreed to launch an independent investigation into Altman’s firing.
While the exact circumstances for Altman’s surprise ousting remain unclear, some, including Brockman, have suggested that it may have been connected to a disagreement between Altman and the company’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, who is also one of the board members that moved against the CEO.
According to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the two had a difference of opinion on the issue of AI safety, with Sutskever supposedly believing that Altman was not paying enough attention to the risks posed by OpenAI’s technology.
In a post on X on Monday, Sutksever wrote, however, that he “deeply regretted” his participation in the board’s actions, that he “never intended to harm OpenAI” and was proud of everything the company had achieved.
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