20231122 Sam Altman
Sam Altman Image Credit: AP

San Francisco: OpenAI on Tuesday said it reached an agreement for Sam Altman to return as CEO days after his ouster, capping frenzied discussions about the future of the startup at the center of the artificial intelligence boom.

In addition to Altman's return, the company agreed in principle to partly reconstitute the board of directors that had dismissed him. Former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers will join Quora CEO and current director Adam D'Angelo, OpenAI said.

Sam Altman said in a post on X "i'm looking forward to returning to openai." His return caps a tumultuous weekend that saw Altman agree to move to OpenAI's financial backer Microsoft to head a new research team there. That followed a rejection by OpenAI's board of his first attempt to return to the startup, on Sunday, by naming ex-Twitch boss Emmett Shear as interim CEO.

In a post on X, Shear celebrated the late-night outcome Tuesday, which he said followed "~72 very intense hours of work." Altman's dismissal had brought uncertainty for both OpenAI and Microsoft, which had moved quickly to control damage over the weekend by vowing to hire him and Greg Brockman, president of the startup.

Brockman, who had quit after Altman was ousted, said in a post on X that he was "getting back to coding tonight." Nearly all of OpenAI's more than 700-strong staff on Monday had threatened to leave unless the board stepped down and reinstated Altman and Brockman, according to a letter reviewed by Reuters.

In a statement on X, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella welcomed the changes to OpenAI's board.

"We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance," he said.

Sam Altman's return to OpenAI: tracking the Silicon Valley upheaval


Nov. 21 OpenAI said Altman will return as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo. Brockman will also returning to the startup.

Nov. 20 Some investors in OpenAI explore legal recourse against the company's board, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters

Nov. 20 Nearly all OpenAI staff threaten to quit and join Altman at Microsoft if board doesn't resign, according to a letter seen by Reuters

Nov. 20 OpenAI appoints former Twitch boss Emmett Shear as interim CEO. Shear pledges probe into Altman's exit. OpenAI board approaches rival Anthropic's CEO on merger, for taking top job, sources say

Nov. 20 Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says the Windows maker has hired Altman, Brockman and their colleagues to lead a new advanced AI research team

Nov. 19 Altman discusses a possible return to the company, considers launching new AI startup, source tells Reuters

Nov. 18 Some employees contemplated quitting if Altman was not restored as CEO by the end of the weekend, while others expressed support for joining his new venture, people familiar with the matter said

Nov. 18 Early investor Khosla Ventures says it wants Altman back at OpenAI, "but will back him in whatever he does next"

Nov. 18 Altman's firing was over a "breakdown in communication between Sam and the board," and not "malfeasance", COO Brad Lightcap says in an internal memo

Nov. 17 OpenAI board fires CEO, co-founder Sam Altman and President Greg Brockman quits after being removed from the board. Company names Mira Murati as interim CEO