Sam Altman Back at OpenAI After Microsoft Hires Him, Fires Board That Ousted Him

satya nadella and sam altman

The drama concludes and Sam Altman goes back to OpenAI, not as a board member, and fires the previous board except one.

The one thing that the whole AI popular culture party was lacking was drama. Sam Altman fired. Much backlash. Many others leave OpenAI. OpenAI pressured to bring him back. Meanwhile, Microsoft announces taking Altman and colleagues in. OpenAI freaked out, much pressure and distrust from stakeholders. OpenAI puts Altman back into the company. Major board reshuffle and Altman fires all but one board member in return.

Some shallow news stories are a little more than a set of tweets. That’s not pleasing. This time, as this drama unfolded on X/Twitter exclusively, there was no alternative but to literally make it a series of tweets. Here’s a breakdown:

After OpenAI’s board ousted Sam Altman, the face of ChatGPT and generative AI, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced on X/Twitter that both Altman and Greg Brockman will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team, along with colleagues (others who left OpenAI due to Altman’s firing). The firing happened on Friday and Nadella announced the news on Monday. (The Verge: Microsoft hires former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.)

To this, Altman replied “the mission continues” on X/Twitter.

Two days later on Wednesday, OpenAI announced that they are taking Altman back.

Microsoft apparently supported this. Altman said:

This encouraged Satya Nadella and Microsoft.

Apparently, Microsoft wishes to see OpenAI focus more on commercial tools, whereas the rest of the board members (mainly the ones who ousted Altman) wanted to steer the ship in a different direction (arguably). The new changes help Microsoft. Nadella tweeted:

Put special emphasis on his last sentence: “We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners.”

Greg Brockman tweeted that he and Altman, among other colleagues, “will come back stronger & more unified than ever.”

After Altman returned to OpenAI, he sacked the board that fired him. CEO of Quora Adam D’Angelo remains. Ex-Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor and the former US Treasury Secretary and Harvard University president Larry Summers will also be a part of the new board. There will be six more board members.

Altman and Brockman will not be part of the new board but will lead the direction of OpenAI’s commitment to Microsoft.

X/Twitter users, from those heavily invested in the drama to those who hardly cared, weighed in and wondered if it was a marketing campaign, will Altman serve his notice period at Microsoft, how OpenAI played the Uno reverse card, how could a company fire its third CEO all within a week, and the lengths Altman is willing to go to not use Microsoft Teams and stick to Google Meet. All in good fun, of course.

By Abhimanyu

Unwrapping the fast-evolving AI popular culture.