Sam Altman is back as CEO of OpenAI – four crazy days after the board fired him because it had “lost confidence” in his ability to lead the Microsoft-backed company. In a post on
Mr. Altman confirmed the development, writing: “I love OpenAI, and everything I’ve done over the last few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together. I look forward to returning to OpenAI and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft.”
READ | Huge twist in the OpenAI saga: Sam Altman returns as CEO in five days
Microsoft Corporation CEO Satya Nadella — who had confirmed hours earlier that Altman would be joining the tech giant — had said he was open to Sam Altman staying at OpenAI. However, he said that company’s leadership team needed change wherever Mr. Altman ended up.
Speculation that Altman could make a sensational return to the artificial intelligence startup — in reality persistent since shortly after he was fired — broke Tuesday after Bloomberg News cited sources as saying the two sides had begun talks. Microsoft, the start-up company’s financier, was also involved in these discussions.
On November 21
An internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg News said OpenAI was in “intense discussions” to unify its divided workforce. The memo, dated the night before, was from Anna Makanju, the vice president of global affairs, and said the company’s management had been in contact with Mr. Altman about a possible return.
READ | OpenAI in “intense discussions” to unify company, memo reveals
In a surprise announcement, Mr. Nadella said Sam Altman and others would join Microsoft after resigning from OpenAI. “We’ve learned a lot over the years about how to give founders and innovators the space to build independent identities and cultures across Microsoft, including GitHub, Mojang Studios and LinkedIn…,” he said in response to the mission of Mr. Altman. ” na.
READ | Satya Nadella’s big announcement about Sam Altman following OpenAI firing
On November 20
Earlier on Monday evening, nearly all of OpenAI’s staff — more than 700 of about 770 — threatened to quit and follow Mr. Altman to Microsoft. They said they were “unable to work for or with people who lack the competence, judgment and concern for our mission…” and demanded the board’s resignation.
In an impressive show of loyalty, most also turned down lucrative offers from Salesforce after CEO Marc Benioff said he would match pay and OTE (open trade equity) for any retiring OpenAI research.
READ | OpenAI Employees Reject Salesforce CEO’s Job Offer: “We’re with Sam Altman”
Also on Monday, Reuters reported that OpenAI had approached rival Anthropic’s CEO Dario Amodei about replacing Mr. Altman and a possible merger of the two AI startups. The offer was rejected.
READ | OpenAI board approached Rival AI CEO to replace Sam Altman: report
On November 19
On Sunday, the board offered former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear the role of interim chief. Mr Shear, who once called AI “dangerous” and said “any technology can be abused”, accepted the offer.
Following news of Mr Altman’s return, Mr Shear said he was “very pleased with this outcome”.
Sunday was also the day when the first rumors of Altman’s sensational return emerged.
READ | OpenAI board in talks with Sam Altman to get him back as CEO: report
Sources said investors were pressuring the board to reverse its decision and had also approached Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest shareholder, to intervene on Mr Altman’s behalf. Microsoft has invested billions in OpenAI and has woven its technology into its offerings, including search engine Bing.
On November 18
The day after his resignation, Mr. Altman reportedly told investors about plans to launch a new venture, which would also include Mr. Brockman. In September, Mr. Altman and Apple’s former design chief Jony Ive reportedly discussed a project still in development: a new AI hardware device.
READ | OpenAI’s Sam Altman plans new venture after being fired: report
On November 17
Following Mr. Altman’s resignation, OpenAI’s board appointed Mira Murati as interim CEO. Ms Murati, 34, had been the company’s chief technology officer since May last year.
The company emphasized that “a search process (is underway) to find a permanent successor”.
This whole saga erupted after Sam Altman was fired by the Open AI board on Friday.
Mr Altman rose to fame with the launch of ChatGPT last year, sparking a race to advance AI research and development, with billions invested in the sector. It was reported that he was fired because his attempts to make more and more money from the company’s leading GPT-4 model – while keeping its internal workings secret – became too problematic for the board.
With input from agencies
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