ChatGPT-maker OpenAI has 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 an artificial intelligence boom.
The company also agreed to revamp the board of directors that had dismissed him. OpenAI named Bret Taylor, formerly co-CEO of Salesforce, as chair and also appointed Larry Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, to the board.
After Altman was fired on Friday, the original board had given scant explanation other than his lack of candor and its need to defend OpenAI’s mission to develop AI that benefits humanity.
The deal to restore Altman ushers in a potentially new era for the startup – a non-profit – which long juggled concerns among staff about AI’s dangers and its potential for commercialization.
In a statement on X, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella welcomed the changes. “We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance,” he said.
Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo will stay on what OpenAI called the new “initial board.” It was not immediately clear if the remaining directors holding no equity in OpenAI would retain their seats, or if investors in its capped-profit entity – such as 49% owner Microsoft – would win their first appointments.
Reuters earlier reported that some investors were exploring legal recourse after the week’s events threatened the future of OpenAI, recently expected to have a more than $80 billion valuation.
Spokespeople for the startup did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said OpenAI’s path was now clear of the recent and murky tumult.
“Sam Altman’s views about how to run the company will dominate future direction, especially given he’ll be supervised under a new board,” Streeter said.