OpenAI officially announced the return of co-founder Sam Altman to the company and his role as CEO on Wednesday, a week after the company agreed to reinstate him after he was unceremoniously removed by the then OpenAI board of directors.
Microsoft, a major investor, now has representation on the new board. But it doesn’t get a vote.
“I have never been more excited about the future,” Altman said in theannouncement. “I am extremely grateful for everyone’s hard work in an unclear and unprecedented situation, and I believe our resilience and spirit set us apart in the industry.
“I feel so, so good about our probability of success for achieving our mission,” he added.
On November 17, the OpenAI board announced that Altman had beenabruptly removed as CEO. The reason the board gave was that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities.”
“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI,” the OpenAI announcement said. “We believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward.”
The board then said CTO Mira Murati was appointed interim CEO. She was praised by Altman as her brief time at the top came to an end.
“Mira did an amazing job throughout all of this, serving the mission, the team, and the company selflessly throughout,” Altman said. “She is an incredible leader, and OpenAI would not be OpenAI without her. Thank you,” Altman said, adding that Murati would return to her role as CTO.
“One of the most important things for the team that builds AGI safely is the ability to handle stressful and uncertain situations and maintain good judgment throughout,” he said. “Top marks. Thank you all.”
Altman also announced the new board of directors for OpenAI, which will include Bret Taylor as Chair, replacing former chair Greg Brockman, economist Larry Summers, and returning board member and Quora co-founder and CEO Adam D’Angelo. Also joining the OpenAI board in a non-voting role would be the company’s largest investor, Microsoft.
“We will build a qualified, diverse Board of exceptional individuals whose collective experience represents the breadth of OpenAI’s mission – from technology to safety to policy. We are pleased that this Board will include a non-voting observer for Microsoft.”
On Twitter, Altman addressed D’Angelo being on the OpenAI board and a potential conflict of interest.
“I recognize that during this process, some questions were raised about Adam’s potential conflict of interest running Quora and Poe while being on the OpenAI Board,” Altman wrote. “For the record, I want to state that Adam has always been very clear with me and the board about the potential conflict and doing whatever he needed to do (recusing himself when appropriate and even offering to leave the board if we ever thought it was necessary) to appropriately manage this situation and to avoid conflicted decision-making.”
When Altman was out at OpenAI, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Altman and former OpenAI President Greg Brockman—who quit in protest after Altman’s ouster—would be hired to lead Microsoft’s advanced AI research team. That bold move never came to pass.
“Satya [Nadella], Kevin [Scott], Amy [Hood], and Brad [Smith] have been incredible partners throughout this, with exactly the right priorities all the way through,” Altman said. “They’ve had our backs and were ready to welcome all of us if we couldn’t achieve our primary goal.
“We clearly made the right choice to partner with Microsoft, and I’m excited that our new board will include them as a non-voting observer,” Altman noted.
On November 22, 72 hours after being removed from OpenAI, both Altman and Brockman returned to the roles of CEO and President, respectively.
“I am so looking forward to finishing the job of building beneficial AGI with you all—best team in the world, best mission in the world,” Altman concluded.
Edited by Ryan Ozawa.