summary Summary

After an enormous waste of capital, time and trust, Sam Altman and Greg Brockman return to OpenAI. The board is renewed.

After being fired last Friday and presumably leaving for Microsoft, Sam Altman has returned to OpenAI as CEO. He is followed by Greg Brockman, whose new role is still unclear.

The incident will at least have an impact on the structure of OpenAI: The new board consists of Bret Taylor, former co-CEO of Salesforce, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Adam D'Angelo, CEO of Qora, who was the only one of those involved to survive the incident in his position. Altman and Brockman will not return to the board.

Image: OpenAI via Twitter

According to The Verge, this initial board will form an expanded board of up to nine people, including Microsoft. For now, Altman, Brockman, Sutskever, Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner are no longer on the board. The latter is said to have been heavily involved in the disputes of the past few days (see below).


Interim CEO Emett Shear, who helped with the discussions, is likely to leave the company now that Altman is back. On Twitter, he says the solution now is "the path that maximizes safety while doing right by all stakeholders."

OpenAI embarrasses its partner Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is likely to be quite upset by what has happened, as he ended up embarrassing himself by prematurely announcing that he had brought Altman and Brockman to Microsoft.

Nadella had already been hailed by many as the winner of the OpenAI conspiracy. On Monday, many Microsoft employees took to LinkedIn to welcome the new AI research team with Altman and Brockman at the helm.

"When I decided to join Microsoft on sun evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. With the new board and with Satya’s support, I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with Microsoft," said Altman, explaining his change of heart.

More likely, Altman wanted to use his move to Microsoft and the potential hiring of hundreds of OpenAI employees as leverage in negotiations with OpenAI's board, as well as his threat to start a new company with Brockman.


Nadella credits Altman and Brockman with playing key roles in OpenAI and says he welcomes the change in the board. "We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners."

Dispute over AI safety and a research paper

It is still unclear exactly what triggered the dispute, but it seems to be a mixture of reasons. According to the New York Times, Ilya Sutskever is said to have expressed concerns about the rapid commercialization being pushed by Altman and the safety risks involved.

Sutskever had concerns about AI safety and Altman's role since the Anthropic spin-off. Tasha McCauley also had these concerns, even more so than Sutskever, and had previously clashed with Altman, Kara Swisher reported on Twitter.

Altman also reportedly wanted to remove Helen Toner from the board for co-authoring a paper ("Decoding Intentions") that criticized OpenAI's safety measures while praising OpenAI spin-off and competitor Anthropic. The New York Times saw an email in which Altman expressed these concerns.

Join our community
Join the DECODER community on Discord, Reddit or Twitter - we can't wait to meet you.
Join our community
Join the DECODER community on Discord, Reddit or Twitter - we can't wait to meet you.

Altman reportedly confronted Toner about the paper. He saw it as a risk to OpenAI, given that in July the FTC launched an investigation into ChatGPT for spreading misinformation about individuals and OpenAI's handling of user data. When Sutskever sided with Toner, events took their course.

Support our independent, free-access reporting. Any contribution helps and secures our future. Support now:
Bank transfer
  • Sam Altman returns to OpenAI as CEO after being fired last Friday and reportedly leaving to join Microsoft. Greg Brockman also returns.
  • OpenAI will replace its board of directors, with Altman and Brockman stepping down. The new board will consist of Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo. They will form a board of up to nine members.
  • The exact reason for the dispute at OpenAI is still unclear, but it is speculated that there were disagreements over AI safety and a research paper by Helen Toner that was critical of OpenAI's safety measures, which Altman is said to have taken offense to.
Online journalist Matthias is the co-founder and publisher of THE DECODER. He believes that artificial intelligence will fundamentally change the relationship between humans and computers.
Join our community
Join the DECODER community on Discord, Reddit or Twitter - we can't wait to meet you.