The Return of the AI King – Sam Altman Back as OpenAI CEO After Employee Revolt

In a dramatic turn of events, Sam Altman is set to return as CEO of artificial intelligence lab OpenAI after a shareholder and employee revolt over his sudden firing last week.

Sam Altman
Sam Altman

Altman’s reinstatement comes as part of a peace deal brokered overnight between OpenAI management, employees, and key investors Microsoft and Salesforce.

The deal sees a new OpenAI board formed, chaired by former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor and including tech legend Larry Summers and early Facebook investor Adam D’Angelo.

In return, Altman will resume his position as CEO and his right-hand man Greg Brockman will also return as President after both quit in protest last week.

Altman’s firing by the OpenAI board shocked the AI community and ignited fury amongst employees, who saw it as a betrayal of the company’s founding ideals.

Over 90% of staff signed a petition demanding his return and the board’s resignation, with most threatening to quit if their demands were not met.

Key backers Microsoft also pushed hard for Altman’s reinstatement over concerns for OpenAI’s future direction and stability. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella directly intervened, speaking with both Altman and Brockman before releasing a statement supporting the leadership team and changes to OpenAI’s governance.

For many, Altman is synonymous with OpenAI, which he co-founded in 2015 alongside Brockman with the goal of ensuring AI technology is developed safely to benefit all humanity. His abrupt dismissal raised concerns over OpenAI potentially pivoting towards short-term profits over its safety-first principles.

“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…I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI.”

Altman assured employees and fans in a statement

His restoration is seen as crucial for OpenAI maintaining its unique culture of responsible innovation.

The 36 hours of chaos after Altman and Brockman’s departures saw OpenAI hurriedly appoint two emergency replacement CEOs before the peace deal was struck for their return.

Altman was initially succeeded by CTO Mira Murati before former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear was brought in on an interim basis.

Both thanked Shear for his efforts in resolving the crisis, with early Facebook investor D’Angelo tweeting he “played constructive role in solution”. Shear tweeted he was “deeply pleased by this result – this was the pathway that maximised safety.”

With Altman back at the helm and a new-look board in place, attention now turns to the future. An independent review of Altman’s abrupt firing will still go ahead to clear the air.

But for now, OpenAI’s staff and backers are breathing a sigh of relief their mission to create safe artificial general intelligence remains on track under restored leadership.solution.”

The three people leaving the board are: OpenAI’s chief scientist, Ilya Sutskever, who signed the staff letter calling for Altman’s return; Tasha McCauley, a tech entrepreneur; and Helen Toner, a director at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

On Wednesday, Toner reposted OpenAI’s statement on Altman’s rehiring, adding: “And now, we all get some sleep.”

About the author

Meet Alauddin Aladin, an AI enthusiast with over 4 years of experience in the world of AI Prompt Engineering. He embarked on his AI journey in 2019, starting with the impressive GPT-2 model. Since December 2022, he has dedicated himself full-time to researching and unraveling the possibilities of AI Prompt, particularly the groundbreaking GPT models.

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