Shakeup At OpenAI: Sam Altman Returns As CEO, Microsoft Secures Board Observer Role

Benzinga ·  Nov 29, 2023 22:59

Sam Altman has regained his CEO title at OpenAI, while Satya Nadella-led $Microsoft (MSFT.US)$ has secured a non-voting observer role on the OpenAI board.

What Happened: On Wednesday, just hours after it was reported that OpenAI might not offer board seats to investors like Microsoft, Khosla Ventures, and Thrive Capital, the ChatGPT parent announced the news of Altman's reinstatement.

While Microsoft doesn't have any official voting power, its new role in OpenAI's board as a "non-voting observer" will grant the company enhanced visibility into the workings of this AI startup.

In the document shared by OpenAI, Altman expressed excitement for his comeback while applauding employees' perseverance and positivity in times of uncertainty.

I am returning to OpenAI as CEO. Mira will return to her role as CTO. The new initial board will consist of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo," Altman announced.

He added, "I have never been more excited about the future."

The newly reinstated CEO also voiced optimism for a sustained working relationship with Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI's co-founder and chief scientist, despite his exit from the board.

I love and respect Ilya, I think he's a guiding light of the field and a gem of a human being. I harbor zero ill will towards him. While Ilya will no longer serve on the board, we hope to continue our working relationship and are discussing how he can continue his work at OpenAI," he said.

Why It Matters: This whole drama started on Nov. 17, when Altman unexpectedly departed from the position of OpenAI CEO. At the time, it was reported that the board was concerned about Altman's transparency in communications with them.

After that, OpenAI president Greg Brockman revealed that he was removed from his position.

Things became more heated when OpenAI employees announced an open rebellion, demanding the reinstatement of Altman and Brockman and the removal of the board.

Now, it has all resulted in favor of the employees.

Meanwhile, given that Microsoft also has a board seat, it signifies a notable milestone in the company's investment journey into OpenAI, where it holds a 49% stake.

Earlier, Microsoft had no access to the board's activities, leading to shock when Altman was suddenly dismissed.

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