Altman Returns as OpenAI CEO in Chaotic Win for Microsoft

Sam Altman will return to lead OpenAI less than five days after he was pushed out of one of the world’s most valuable startups, setting off a shock back-and-forth drama that transfixed Silicon Valley and the global AI industry.

Altman is returning as chief executive officer and the initial board will be led by Bret Taylor, a former co-CEO of Salesforce Inc. The other directors are Larry Summers, the former US Treasury Secretary, and existing member Adam D’Angelo, the co-founder and CEO of Quora Inc. OpenAI is now working “to figure out the details,” the company said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The decision to restore him to the world’s best-known AI startup marks a significant victory for Microsoft Corp., which worked with fellow investors to reverse Altman’s firing. CEO Satya Nadella publicly supported Altman throughout the turmoil and briefly agreed to hire him at Microsoft to start a new in-house research group. Microsoft shares gained as much as 1.8% to $379.79, on Wednesday morning in New York, hitting their highest level on record.

The two new board members also hold appeal for Wall Street and the Silicon Valley crowd. Summers, a Harvard academic and paid contributor to Bloomberg Television, sits on the board of several startups, including Jack Dorsey’s Block Inc. Taylor is a director at Shopify Inc. and, as a director at Twitter, acted as a calming force during the sale to Elon Musk last year.

The reworked OpenAI board will not be final: its main priority is to select up to nine new directors, said a person familiar with the negotiations who asked not to be identified. Board composition proved to be a major sticking point in negotiations for Altman’s return after his shocking ouster on Friday.