Sam Altman Reinstated as CEO of OpenAI

7 December 23

Just days after being ousted by the OpenAI board of directors Sam Altman is set to be reinstated as the CEO of Open AI. The turnaround decision was fueled by intense pressure from the employees and investors who advocated fiercely for his reinstatement.

Altman is not coming back alone, Bret Taylor, the former Salesforce CEO, and Larry Summers, the former Treasury Secretary will assume roles on OpenAI’s board of directors. Brett Taylor will take the chair position. Adam D’Angelo who voted to remove Altman from his role as the CEO will retain his board seat.

The reinstatement of Altman coincides with the departure of Helen Toner, Tasha McCauley, and co-founder Ilya Sutskever from the board. All of whom voted to remove Altman. Sutskever initially was for removing Altman, but later withdrew his support for the decision and at time being remains an OpenAI employee.

The board’s decision to remove Sam Altman as the CEO was swiftly met with letters from hundreds of employees and investors demanding that the board of directors resign and Altman returns as the CEO. Sam Altman was almost instantly scooped up by Microsoft who announced a new AI lab that would be led by Altman and Greg Brockman. Following the reinstatement the future of said Microsoft’s project is yet unknown.

The rapid turnaround in leadership meant the appointment of Emmett Shear, ex-Twitch CEO, as Altman’s temporary replacement. Many compare this situation to that of Steve Jobs’ departure from Apple in 1985.

Open AI has been the talking point of the world ever since the release of their chatbot ChatGPT in late 2022, which earned the company a valuation of $86 billion. Sam Altman has been at the helm of the company since 2019 and played a pivotal role in shaping it.

What happened with OpenAI’s leadership switch-up shows the challenges in governing businesses in such high-stakes industries as artificial intelligence. Altman’s return, which also brought changes in the board of directors can be seen as a crucial step towards more stable top level leadership.

Sam Altman’s reinstatement was met with enthusiasm from fellow prominent figures in the tech industry. Many highlighted that he had a pivotal role in OpenAI’s success and that should be appreciated. This leadership change-up rollercoaster shows how quickly and unpredictably can things develop in the tech landscape.

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