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Sam Altman is officially returning as OpenAI’s CEO, days after his shocking ouster

Published Nov 22nd, 2023 2:26AM EST
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman
Image: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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Less than a week after the board of OpenAI dropped a bombshell on Silicon Valley by abruptly ousting the company’s CEO Sam Altman, the high-flying AI startup has pulled yet another shocker and reached “an agreement in principle” for Altman to return as CEO. That’s according to a tweet Tuesday evening from the company, which added that it’s also in the process of setting up a new board (which will consist, initially, of former Twitter board chair Bret Taylor, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and existing OpenAI board member Adam D’Angelo).

Ex-OpenAI president Greg Brockman, who resigned in anger over Altman’s removal, is also coming back. “Returning to OpenAI and getting back to coding tonight,” reads a brief message he posted to X late Tuesday night.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks as OpenAI’s Sam Altman looks on during the OpenAI DevDay event on November 06, 2023, in San Francisco. Image source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

OpenAI’s announcement of the news, which it likewise confirmed via X, added: “We are collaborating to figure out the details.” For anyone keeping score, however, OpenAI’s board still has not given a detailed explanation about why it removed the charismatic and well-liked Altman in the first place, a firing that looked set to dramatically reshape the AI industry landscape — while also leading to the appointment of not one but two successive interim CEOs at OpenAI in the span of just 72 hours.

It should also go without saying at this point, regarding any news out of company, that all of these details should be considered subject to change. Altman, for his part, likewise took to X to celebrate the news (so much for Threads killing Twitter’s news mojo, by the way, but that’s another matter for another time), writing:

So that’s that — I think? OpenAI lives to fight another day, its imminent mass exodus of employees over the Altman firing presumably quelled. OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever (who Elon Musk has taken credit for recruiting to OpenAI, before Musk broke off his relationship with the company) was who apparently led the board to take action against Altman before doing a complete 180 and tweeting that he regrets “my participation in the board’s actions.”

At one point in the emotionally charged days that followed Atlman’s firing, Brockman’s wife reportedly begged Sutskever to reverse his position during a tearful exchange (Sutskever, according to journalist Kara Swisher, officiated the Brockmans’ wedding). Speaking of Musk, though, X’s mercurial CEO chimed in as well late Tuesday night, tweeting cryptically:

“What tangled webs we weave.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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