Sam Altman to return to OpenAI following staff revolt

Rebecca Hills-Duty

After staff threatened to jump ship to Microsoft, Sam Altman has been re-hired as CEO of OpenAI.

It has been a week of turmoil for AI research pioneers OpenAI. The ouster of Sam Altman and Greg Brockman led to a rollercoaster of events, but it might finally all be resolved now, with Altman returning to his post as CEO of OpenAI.

On November 17, the board of OpenAI announced that CEO Sam Altman and fellow co-founder Greg Brockman were both being removed from the company. The move was widely described as a ‘boardroom coup’ and many staff were left unhappy.

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Former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear was instated as interim CEO of OpenAI, and meanwhile, Microsoft announced a new AI research division that would be headed up by Altman and Brockman.

Staff solidarity wins return of Altman at OpenAI

Staff at OpenAI expressed their frustration with an open letter that declared an intent to jump ship to this new Microsoft division if Altman and Brockman were not re-instated. The letter was ultimately co-signed by over 700 staff, an overwhelming majority of the 770 staff at OpenAI. The letter condemned the process used during the firing of Altman and Brockman and accused the OpenAI board of negotiating in bad faith.

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The letter appears to have had the desired effect, as, after a new round of negotiations, an agreement has been made for the ‘return in principle’ of Altman along with President Greg Brockman.

The deal is also said to include a new set of board members, which according to The Verge will be representing Microsoft’s interests.

It has been almost a year since the launch of ChatGPT set off an explosion of interest in AI technology.

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Over two million developers now utilize OpenAI APIs, and it is one of the biggest players in the generative AI space. How this shake-up will affect the company in the longer term remains to be seen.

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About The Author

Rebecca is a Tech Writer at Dexerto, specializing in PC components, VR, AMD, Nvidia and Intel. She has previously written for UploadVR and The Escapist, hosts a weekly show on RadioSEGA and has an obsession with retro gaming. Get in touch at rebecca.hillsduty@dexerto.com