Sam Altman's return to OpenAI: tracking the Silicon Valley upheaval

FILE PHOTO: Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in San Francisco, California, U.S. November 16, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

(Reuters) -OpenAI said late on Tuesday Sam Altman would return to the company as CEO, capping days of high drama and marathon discussions about the future of the startup at the center of the global artificial intelligence boom.

Following his surprise dismissal on Friday, Altman had briefly joined Microsoft as the head of artificial intelligence research along with the ChatGPT maker's former President Greg Brockman and other staff.

The developments come less than a year after OpenAI kicked off a generative AI frenzy with the launch of viral chatbot ChatGPT and bagged Microsoft as an investor, among other big names.

Date Event

Nov. 17 OpenAI board fires CEO, co-founder Sam Altman

and President Greg Brockman quits after being

removed from the board. Company names Mira

Murati as interim CEO

Nov. 18 Altman's firing was over a "breakdown in

communication between Sam and the board," and

not "malfeasance", COO Brad Lightcap says in

an internal memo

Nov. 18 Early investor Khosla Ventures says it wants

Altman back at OpenAI, "but will back him in

whatever he does next"

Nov. 18 Some employees contemplated quitting if

Altman was not restored as CEO by the end of

the weekend, while others expressed support

for joining his new venture, people familiar

with the matter said

Nov. 19 Altman discusses a possible return to the

company, considers launching new AI startup,

source tells Reuters

Nov. 20 Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says the Windows

maker has hired Altman, Brockman and their

colleagues to lead a new advanced AI research


Nov. 20 OpenAI appoints former Twitch boss Emmett

Shear as interim CEO. Shear pledges probe

into Altman's exit. OpenAI board approaches

rival Anthropic's CEO on merger, for taking

top job, sources say

Nov. 20 Nearly all OpenAI staff threaten to quit and

join Altman at Microsoft if board doesn't

resign, according to a letter seen by Reuters

Nov. 20 Some investors in OpenAI explore legal

recourse against the company's board, sources

familiar with the matter told Reuters

Nov. 21 OpenAI said Altman will return as

CEO with a

new initial board

of Bret Taylor, Larry Summers,

and Adam D'Angelo. Brockman will also

returning to the startup.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Nivedita Bhattacharjee)

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