ChatGPT-maker OpenAI has reached an agreement for Sam Altman to return as CEO days after his ouster. This decision concludes intense deliberations about the future of the startup at the center of an artificial intelligence boom. Additionally, OpenAI is set to overhaul its board of directors, with the appointment of Bret Taylor, former co-CEO of Salesforce, as the new chair. Larry Summers, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary, has also joined the board.
Altman's strategic move was facilitated in part by Microsoft. During his period of unemployment, Microsoft CEO Nadella offered Altman the opportunity to lead a new research team, collaborating with Brockman and other colleagues who had also left OpenAI.
By Monday, an overwhelming majority of OpenAI's 700-plus staff had issued a collective ultimatum, threatening to join Microsoft's initiative unless the board resigned and reinstated Altman. This ultimatum was supported by Microsoft's extensive computing capabilities, a crucial asset that powers OpenAI's technology, in addition to its team of computer scientists.
Co-founder and President Brockman commemorated the victory with a staff selfie late Tuesday night, successfully meeting the deadline before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. He expressed confidence in OpenAI's resilience, stating, "We will come back stronger and more unified than ever." OpenAI reposted the selfie with the caption, "OpenAI is nothing without its people."
Altman's remarkable comeback is being likened to a storyline reminiscent of Silicon Valley legends, such as Steve Jobs' experience at Apple. Jobs, the CEO of Apple, departed the company in a power struggle in 1985, only to make a triumphant return 12 years later.
Altman, similarly, reclaimed the CEO role after just four days. His initial departure had triggered immediate turmoil at OpenAI, leading to President Greg Brockman resigning in protest.
Susannah Streeter, who leads the money and markets division at Hargreaves Lansdown, expressed that OpenAI's trajectory is now free from the recent turbulence and uncertainty.
Streeter highlighted that Sam Altman's perspectives on company management will play a significant role in shaping the future direction, particularly as he operates under the oversight of a newly constituted board.