Sam Altman returns as OpenAI CEO

He's back.

Brenda Khoo | November 22, 2023, 08:47 PM



OpenAI has brought back Sam Altman as its CEO on Nov. 22, merely five days after firing him.

The American artificial intelligence (AI) research company, which developed the AI chatbot ChatGPT, also has a "new initial board".

OpenAI made the announcement in a post on X:

Altman responded with three emojis: "❤️🫡❤️".


Altman abruptly fired on Nov. 17

On Nov. 17, OpenAI abruptly fired Altman, after that the board said that it "no longer had confidence" in his ability to continue leading the company.

Although it’s not clear why Altman was fired, The Guardian reported that Altman was rumoured to be working on a new venture while previously working at OpenAI.

Replacing Altman, OpenAI also announced in its blog post that its chief technology officer Mira Murati would serve as interim CEO, effective as of Nov. 17.

Three days later on Nov. 20, CNN reported that OpenAI announced its new interim CEO as Emmett Shear, the former CEO of interactive livestreaming platform Twitch.

Microsoft recruited Altman on Nov. 20

One of OpenAI's key investors, Microsoft has pledged over US$13 billion (S$17.4 billion) to the AI start-up since 2019.

The same day Shear was hired, Microsoft announced that it was hiring Altman to head its AI research lab.

After the announcement, Microsoft's stock reportedly reached a record high of US$377.44 (S$506) on Nov. 20CNN said. The previous record was US$376.17 (S$505).

OpenAI employees threatened to quit & join Microsoft

In response, around 600 employees at OpenAI reportedly called for Altman's return, multiple news sources reported.

They also allegedly threatened to quit and join Microsoft if their demands were not satisfied, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.

The letter also called for the current board to "resign" and appoint "two new lead independent directors".

Murati too was a signee of the letter.

The letter apparently prompted OpenAI to reinstate Altman as CEOBloomberg reported.

Former OpenAI president also back

Altman has returned to OpenAI, effective as of Nov. 22.

Former OpenAI president Greg Brockman has also announced his return to the company. He had initially resigned from the company on Nov. 18 due to Altman's departure.

In his post on X, Brockman wrote, "Returning to OpenAI & getting back to coding tonight."

'So happy you're back'

Many commenters and business professionals on X expressed gladness upon hearing Altman's return.

Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky wrote, "So happy you're back."

However, some commenters on X said that they were puzzled by the previous board's decision.

"None of this makes any sense. Why fire him in the first place? You never explained it. Now rehired. The whole board is like a bunch of kids," one user wrote.

Amid what was unfolding at OpenAI, ChatGPT was reportedly down with a "widespread outage" on Nov. 22 at around 6am in Singapore's time, Business Insider said.

Top image from OpenAI/YouTube video

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