In a twist of fortune, Sam Altman has returned to Open AI as CEO, barely a fortnight after being ousted by the board at the artificial intelligence startup. His resumption, which comes days after his reinstatement was revealed, has been confirmed.
Last week, OpenAI teased the comeback, having at the time reached an agreement in principle that would reverse Sam’s firing, the result of an attempted coup by the company’s board.
As expected, big tech giant Microsoft, the billion-dollar for-profit’s biggest investor, is taking a non-voting seat on the board. Of all the directors who had Altman fired, only Adam D’Angelo is retaining his seat.
Recall that when Sam’s unseating came to light, some of the company’s key employees threatened to leave the company if his departure persisted. The real reason behind the deposition remains unclear, but the outcome has offered up one of Silicon Valley’s newest corporate spectacles.
In an interview with The Verge, Sam expressed mixed feelings about the turn of events, admitting both a distaste for the former board’s decisions and a willingness to continue his role at the company, which he has led since 2015.
“It was really interesting. Saturday morning, some of the board called me and asked if I’d be up for talking about it. And my immediate reaction was sort of one of defiance, it was like, “Man, I’m hurt and angry, and I think this sucks,” he said during the exchange.
Having become a board member, Microsoft, which has played a major role in the continuity of Altman’s era at Open AI, is now privy to the company’s meetings and confidential information. But, as hinted earlier, the tech giant does not have any voting rights at the decision table.
Satya Nadella, executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft, offered job opportunities to Altman as well as other OpenAI employees who chose to exit the company in reaction to the drama. Nadella specifically wanted Sam’s lead on a new Microsoft division focused on AI.
However, as the dust begins to settle, it appears Sam Altman’s era at the world’s best-known artificial intelligence startup is not yet over. Mira Murati, who resigned her position as chief technology officer just after the coup, is also resuming her position at the company.
In a message to the company, Sam laid out his plans post-return, with a laser focus on advancing OpenAI’s research plan, investing in full-stack safety efforts, and deploying more products to serve customers.