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Sam Altman Returns To OpenAI Board Of Directors, Concluding A Four-Month Management Rollercoaster

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, ousted four months ago from the company he co-founded, is now fully back in control. His return to its board of directors as part of a reshaped oversight team was announced on Friday.

Altman was fired in November as CEO and director by the OpenAI board, a shocking development for a man widely perceived as the leader of AI in Silicon Valley. He then briefly went to work for Microsoft, which had a $13 billion partnership with OpenAI.

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Then, weeks after his axing, Altman was rehired as CEO by OpenAI. The company fired the directors responsible for Altman’s dismissal and added economist Larry Summers and Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor as chair. They kept Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo as the sole remaining board member from Altman’s prior era.

On Friday, OpenAI announced the appointment of four new directors: Altman, former Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellman, former Sony General Counsel Nicole Seligman, and Instacart CEO Fidji Simo.

“I am excited to welcome Sue, Nicole, and Fidji to the OpenAI Board of Directors,” Taylor said in a statement. “Their experience and leadership will enable the Board to oversee OpenAI’s growth, and to ensure that we pursue OpenAI’s mission of ensuring artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.”

OpenAI also announced the completion of an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Altman’s firing. It concluded that Altman was fired not out of concern for safety or security related to artificial intelligence. Instead, the board members believed firing Altman would fix management issues.

That argument collapsed when hundreds of employees threatened to quit and demanded Altman’s return.

The law firm that conducted the probe concluded that while the board had the right to fire Altman, his behavior did not warrant it. He was also given no chance to defend himself or correct any errant behavior, the probe concluded.

In a face-saving gesture, the new board now will adopt a new set of guidelines to run the company, strengthen its conflict-of-interest policy, create a whistleblower hotline for anonymous tipsters, and develop new committees for the board to oversee the company’s strategy.

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