Sam Altman has “reached an agreement in principle” to return as CEO of OpenAI.

The executive was suddenly fired late Friday by the board for not being "consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities."

Nadella Altman
– Microsoft

After he was fired, co-founder Greg Brockman quit along with dozens of researchers. They soon joined Microsoft, which is OpenAI's primary financial backer, to form a new AI research group.

Nearly all of OpenAI's remaining 770 employees then threatened to quit and join Microsoft if the board did not reverse its decision.

Among those who said they would quit was OpenAI chief scientist Ilya Sutskever. Sutskever was on the board at the time and instrumental in firing Altman, but later said that he regretted his actions.

In the brief period of Altman's ousting, the board initially appointed CTO Mira Murati as interim CEO. They then replaced her when she too wanted Altman's return. After contacting multiple candidates, including the CEO of rival Anthropic, they appointed Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear.

Shear said that he would launch an independent investigation into the board's actions, adding that he didn't know why Altman was fired. It is believed he also threatened to quit without more information from the board.

The investigation will now continue with Altman's return; it will also look into the alleged behavior that led to the firing.

Altman will be joined by departed OpenAI staffers and a new board.

Helen Toner, the director of strategy at Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley are out of the board, while Sutskever has stepped down.

Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo will remain as the only vestige of the old board. He will be joined by Bret Taylor, former Salesforce CEO, Google Maps-co-creator, and former Facebook CTO; and Larry Summers, former Secretary of the US Treasury.

The company is expected to expand the board in the months to come, with Microsoft previously having pushed to join.

"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," Altman said on Twitter/X.

"When I decided to join Microsoft on Sun[day] evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. With the new board and w[ith] Satya [Nadella, Microsoft's CEO]’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft ."

Nadella added: "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."

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