Sam Altman returns as CEO of OpenAI, after clean chit

Sam Altman

Rama Krishna Sangem

OpenAI Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman was cleared of any wrongdoing that would have mandated being fired from the company late last year, according to a report based on a monthslong investigation into the events leading up to his brief ouster.

WilmerHale, the law firm that conducted the inquiry, found that the board’s decision to fire Altman was a “consequence of a breakdown in the relationship and loss of trust between the prior board and Mr. Altman,” the artificial intelligence startup said Friday. It did not arise from concerns about product safety, the pace of development or OpenAI’s finances, it said, according to a Bloomberg story.

Altman is rejoining the company’s board following the findings. OpenAI’s board is also adding Sue Desmond-Hellmann, who previously was head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Nicole Seligman, an ex-Sony Entertainment executive; and Instacart CEO Fidji Simo. The board said it would continue to add new members. “I’m pleased this whole thing is over,” Altman said at a press conference Friday.


Went to brink of collapse

The release of the report findings and the board additions represent perhaps the most significant moves yet to turn the page on a dramatic period that brought the world’s best-known AI startup to the brink of collapse. OpenAI’s board ousted Altman in mid-November, saying it had lost confidence in him as a leader, and alleging that he “was not consistently candid” in his communications with them — but directors provided few other details on what prompted the decision.

Days after he was fired, the startup agreed to reinstate Altman, replace all but one of its directors and give a nonvoting observer seat to Microsoft Corp., its biggest investor. But Altman and the new board remained tight-lipped on what led to his ouster.

Multiple people familiar with the board’s thinking previously told Bloomberg the directors’ move was the culmination of months spent mulling issues around Altman’s strategic maneuvering and a perceived lack of transparency in his communications with directors. The board had heard from some senior executives at OpenAI who had issues with Altman, said one person familiar with directors’ thinking.

Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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Rama Krishna Sangem

Excel India national news magazine is a media startup founded and piloted by Rama Krishna Sangem, a Hyderabad based senior journalist with over three decade experience in the field of media, mostly in print journalism. His rich experience in reporting for both Telugu and English newspapers and heading a TV news channel and some online outfits will be of immense use to this venture. Excel India English news magazine seeks to fill the gap of analytical understanding to our readers who today are confronted with myriad media platforms. Our online version not only offers regular updates and commentary on happenings around us, but also gives larger stories not limited by space constraints of a print magazine. Excel India is ably run by a team of senior journalists committed to values and quality standards in the profession. We urge you all to support and guide us in this endeavour. Reach us at