Sam Altman returns to OpenAI as CEO, Microsoft appoints observer to the board

Following a tumultuous week, Sam Altman is officially back as OpenAI’s CEO. The board has also been revamped, replacing most of the members who attempted to remove Altman just before Thanksgiving.

In a letter circulated internally at OpenAI and subsequently published to the OpenAI blog, Altman announced that Mira Murati, who briefly held the interim CEO position, will return to her role as CTO. Altman also confirmed the new board members: Bret Taylor, the former co-CEO of Salesforce; Quora CEO D’Angelo; and economist and political veteran Larry Summers.

Microsoft will have representation on the board in the form of a non-voting observer. This move comes as Microsoft holds a 49% stake in the for-profit OpenAI entity. However, the identity of this observer has not been disclosed, and they will not have an official vote in board business.

Altman expressed his excitement for the future and gratitude for the team’s resilience amidst the recent turmoil. He emphasized OpenAI’s priorities, including advancing research and further investing in AI safety efforts. Altman also pledged to work on building a board of diverse perspectives and implementing unspecified improvements to OpenAI’s governance structure.

The recent upheaval at OpenAI began when Altman was abruptly removed from his position without notifying the majority of the company’s workforce. This move led to significant backlash, with the majority of OpenAI employees pledging to quit unless Altman was reinstated.

The public dispute reportedly stemmed from disagreements over OpenAI’s direction, with the previous board accusing Altman of lack of candor. Privately, there were tensions over a critical paper authored by a board member and rushed AI-powered feature launches.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Altman addressed allegations of conflict of interest involving a board member. He emphasized the importance of full disclosure and leaving decisions about managing potential conflicts of interest to the board.

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