Sam Altman Is Reinstated to OpenAI’s Board


Sam Altman is back—again. The entrepreneur who was suddenly fired as OpenAI CEO and from the ChatGPT developer’s board last November, before regaining his CEO position days later, is now getting his director seat back, too.

Altman and three veteran business executives, all women, were named to OpenAI’s board on Friday, OpenAI announced in a blog post. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Nicole Seligman, a former Sony general counsel; and Fidji Simo, the CEO and chair of grocery delivery company Instacart and a former Facebook executive, are the others joining the board.

OpenAI’s announcement coincided with the release of results from an internal investigation commissioned by three existing board members and carried out by law firm WilmerHale. It found “a breakdown in trust” precipitated Altman’s removal by the prior board, and that his earlier conduct “did not mandate removal,” according to a summary published by OpenAI.

On a press call Friday, Altman attempted to draw a line under OpenAI’s drama, saying “I’m pleased this whole thing is over.” He added that “It’s been disheartening to see some people with an agenda trying to use leaks in the press to hurt the company, hurt the mission.”

While the investigation cleared Altman to reclaim his board seat, he said “I did learn a lot from this experience,” expressing remorse for one incident in particular involving a board member he did not name.

That appeared to be a reference to former OpenAI director Helen Toner, a researcher at Georgetown think tank the Center for Security and Emerging Technology. After she published a research analysis that criticized the speed of OpenAI’s product launch decisions, Altman reportedly tried to remove her from the board. “I think I could have handled that situation with more grace and care—I apologize for that,” he said.

Clean Up

OpenAI has been looking to expand the board for months, after announcing an interim board following the November chaos. It was formed after a deal between some board members who had pushed Altman out, alleging he had endangered its mission to develop superhuman AI for the benefit of all. Three of those directors agreed to step down after more than 95 percent of OpenAI employees threatened to quit if he wasn’t brought back.

The company’s governance has drawn public scrutiny because of its development of ChatGPT, Dall-E, and other services that have kicked off a boom in generative AI technologies over the past couple of years.

Altman had been suddenly fired by four members of the board of OpenAI’s nonprofit entity, which in an unusual structure in tech oversees a for-profit arm working on AI development. They expressed concerns about his communications with the board not being consistently candid as part of their justification for the move.

After a chaotic few days during which Microsoft said it would hire Altman and Brockman, OpenAI employees threatened to quit en masse, Altman was reinstated as CEO.



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