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OpenAI says Sam Altman to return as CEO just days after the board sacked him and he said he'd join Microsoft

OpenAI said Tuesday that its co-founder Sam Altman would return to the tech company as CEO, just days after he was fired by its board of directors and then quickly announced that he was joining Microsoft.

"We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo," OpenAI said in a post on the social media platform X.

In his own statement on the platform, Altman said he loved OpenAI and that everything he'd done "over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together."

OpenAI also said it is forming a new board that will include former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, who will serve as chair; economist and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers; and existing director Adam D'Angelo, CEO of Quora. Three directors involved in the decision to oust Altman —  Ilya Sutskever, Helen Toner and Tasha McCauley — are leaving the board.

Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, said he expects the overhaul to OpenAI's board to strengthen its governance. "The former, now infamous, board members are finally gone after the failed coup, and now in essence OpenAI will be virtually the same than before this soap opera began," he said in report.

Altman said that when he decided on Sunday evening to join Microsoft, "it was clear that was the best path for me and the team," but he said the new board announced by OpenAI — and the support of Microsoft's chairman and CEO Satya Nadella — he was looking forward to returning to the company he helped establish and "to building on our strong partnership with" the software giant.

Nadella said Microsoft's leadership had been "encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board" and that the company believed they were "a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance."

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