Sam Altman Has Been Reinstated to the OpenAI Board: Here’s Why 

Sam Altman Has Been Reinstated to the OpenAI Board: Here's Why 

Sam Altman has returned to the OpenAI board of directors after an independent investigation into his chaotic sacking as company CEO and director last year cleared him of wrongdoing. 

In a statement, OpenAI said that the investigation by the law firm WilmerHale concluded Altman’s ouster was a “consequence of a breakdown in the relationship and loss of trust” between the CEO and the old board. It said his conduct “did not mandate removal.”

Also read: Sam Altman Fired as OpenAI CEO in Major Shakeup 

The ‘right leaders’

The prior OpenAI board fired Altman from his role as CEO on Nov. 17 accusing him of not being “candid” in his communications with it. The abrupt decision sent shockwaves throughtout the AI world.

OpenAI was forced to re-hire Altman only five days later, bowing to pressure from key partner Microsoft and several employees who threatened to resign in support of the ousted CEO.

Greg Brockman, OpenAI co-founder and former president, resigned in protest following Altman’s shock dismissal. But Altman did not regain his board seat after his reinstatement and neither did Brockman.

“We have unanimously concluded that Sam and Greg are the right leaders for OpenAI,” stated Bret Taylor, who took over as chair of an “initial” three-men board formed after the November “boardroom coup” to oversee the probe.

The others were the former U.S. treasury secretary Larry Summers and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo. The trio replaced board members – Tasha McCauley, Helen Toner and Ilya Sutskever – who voted for Altman’s ouster before they were pushed out to pave way for the inquiry. Chief scientist Sutskever later got his job back.

“The review concluded there was a significant breakdown in trust between the prior board, and Sam and Greg,” Taylor told reporters on Friday, Feb. 8.

“And similarly concluded that the board acted in good faith, that the board believed at the time that actions would mitigate some of the challenges that it perceived and didn’t anticipate some of the instability,” he added, according to industry media.

OpenAI said during the investigation, which started in December, WilmerHale carried out dozens of interviews with the company’s previous board members, current executives, advisors and other witnesses. The firm reviewed more than 30,000 documents and various corporate actions.

Sam Altman responds to investigation

While WilmerHale did not release the full report from its inquiry, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said he was disappointed to see people leaking information to try to “pit us against each other.”

The comment was aimed at an investigation published by the New York Times on Feb. 7, which stated that OpenAI chief technology officer Mira Murati had questioned Altman’s management style. Murati stepped-in as interim CEO following Altman’s ousting.

“When I believed a former board member was harming OpenAI through some of their actions, I should have handled that situation with more grace and care. I apologize for this, and I wish I had done it differently,” Altman wrote on X, formerly Twitter, adding:

“I’m pleased this whole thing is over.”

In its statement, OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, revealed it added three women to its board of directors: former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Sue Desmond-Hellman; ex-Sony general counsel Nicole Seligman; and Fidji Simo, CEO of Instacart.

The company said it will also adopt new corporate governance guidelines, strengthen policies around conflicts of interest, create a whistleblower hotline, allowing staff and contractors to submit anonymous reports. It will set up additional board committees.

The price of Worldcoin’s WLD token spiked more than 40% in the 24 hours after the news of Altman’s board return broke. The token hit an all-time high of $11.74 on March 10. As of writing, WLD is up 2.5% at $9.80. Worldcoin is backed by Sam Altman.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.