In continuation of the Sam Altman-Open AI saga, the former face of the world's most advanced text-based AI platform ChatGPT, Altman will soon be returning to the company after his two-day departure.
The transition happened after Altman joined Microsoft on Monday, even though OpenAI employees, around 700 of them, revolted against the OpenAI board's decision to sack him, threatened to quit en masse. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who had welcomed Altman and Greg Brockman, co-founder of OpenAI, into the company, had been constantly brokering peace between both Altman and the OpenAI board, considering Microsoft's huge investments in OpenAI.
Breaking the news on X, OpenAI says it has reached an agreement with Altman and that he'll be back as the OpenAI CEO. OpenAI, as part of the new agreement, will also form a new board. "We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo." The company, however, did not give any clarity on the role of Emmett Shear, the former CEO and co-founder of Twitch, who was named the CEO of OpenAI after Altman's exit.
The company says it is "collaborating to figure out the details."
OpenAI’s existing board of directors consisted OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, independent directors Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, and Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology’s Helen Toner.
Altman also wrote on X that he's "looking forward to returning to openai (OpenAI)". "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. when i decided to join msft on sun evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. with the new board and w satya’s support, i’m looking forward to returning to openai, and building on our strong partnership with msft," he wrote.
Nadella reacted saying Microsoft believes Sam and Greg will play a key role in ensuring OpenAI thrives and builds on its mission. "We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board. We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance. Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission. We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners."
More than 700 OpenAI employees unanimously signed an open letter on Monday, voicing out to the board to resign. They threatened to leave the artificial intelligence startup and join the company's biggest investor, Microsoft. They accused the board of undermining their work and the company’s goal.
Nadella had roped in Altman immediately after his exit from OpenAI, saying he would join the tech behemoth to lead a new advanced AI research team. "We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners," Nadella posted on X.
Also, Nadella had clarified that Microsoft was in no way thinking about breaking its ties with OpenAI. Microsoft had announced a $1 billion investment in OpenAI in 2019. This year in January, too, the tech major announced the third phase of its long-term partnership with OpenAI through a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment to accelerate AI breakthroughs. This followed the company's previous investments in 2019 and 2021.
The OpenAI board had fired Altman on Saturday last week, who is seen as the leading face of generative AI, saying he "will depart as CEO and leave the board of directors". Altman’s departure followed a "deliberative review process" by the OpenAI board, which concluded he was "not consistently candid" in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities, the company alleged.
The company had said its board no longer had "confidence" in his ability to continue leading OpenAI and had appointed Mira Murati, the company’s chief technology officer, as the interim CEO.