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OpenAI says Sam Altman to return as CEO just days after the board sacked him and he said he’d join Microsoft

San Francisco — OpenAI said Tuesday that its co-founder Sam Altman would return to the tech company as CEO, just days after he was fired by its board and then quickly announced that he was joining Microsoft.

“We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D’Angelo,” OpenAI said in a post on the social media platform X.

In his own statement on the platform, Altman said he loved OpenAI and that everything he’d done “over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together.”

Altman said that when he decided on Sunday evening to join Microsoft, “it was clear that was the best path for me and the team,” but he said the new board announced by OpenAI — and the support of Microsoft’s chairman and CEO Satya Nadella — he was looking forward to returning to the company he helped establish and “to building on our strong partnership with” the software giant.

Nadella said Microsoft’s leadership had been “encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board” and that the company believed they were “a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance.”

OpenAI, which makes the popular artificial intelligence powered chatbot ChatGPT, said Friday that Altman was pushed out after a review found he was “not consistently candid in his communications” with the board of directors, which had lost confidence in his ability to lead OpenAI.

One Wall Street research firm said, however, that it believed tensions had arisen over Altman’s push to develop more advanced products. 

“These tensions likely resulted in frustrating communications and Sam making some operational decisions without keeping the board fully aware,” said New Street Research in a Monday research note. “The coup, and the sibylline associated blog post, about Sam not being ‘consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities’ resulted from this situation.”

One board member tweeted that they regretted their participation in the decision to oust Altman. 

“I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company,” wrote board member Ilya Sutskever in a Monday morning social media post.

Altman catapulted ChatGPT to global fame while serving as company CEO and in the past year has become Silicon Valley’s sought-after voice on the promise and potential dangers of artificial intelligence.

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