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The newly reinstated CEO had been set to join Microsoft to lead a new AI division at the Xbox maker.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

November 22, 2023

2 Min Read
Sam Altman presenting at OpenAI Dev Day
Image via OpenAI

Last week, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was fired by the company board for allegedly failing to be "consistently candid in his communications." Now, mere days later, Altman has returned as CEO.

It's the latest in a wild sequence of events that also saw the vast majority of OpenAI staff protest Altman's sacking via an open letter and former president Greg Brockman quit the company in protest. As noted by The Verge, Brockman is now slated to return.

As for Altman, the returning CEO wasn't short of suitors following his departure. Within hours of being fired, the exec agreed to join Microsoft (alongside Brockman) to lead a new AI research team at the Xbox maker.

The announcement was made shortly after Microsoft unveiled plans to partner with AI company Inworld to create new generative AI tools to "empower" its first-party Xbox studios.

After snapping up Altman and Brockman, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company would "move quickly" to provide the duo with the "resources needed for their success."

Now, however, the pair look set to return to OpenAI after signing an "agreement in principle" to rejoin the firm alongside a new board.

"I love OpenAI, and everything I've done over the past few days has been in service of keeping this team and its mission together," Altman wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "When I decided to join Microsoft on Sunday 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."

Nadella didn't seem too downbeat about the sudden U-turn, and indicated Microsoft and OpenAI will now be able to forge a stronger working relationship. Notably, The Verge is reporting that Microsoft is hoping to secure a seat on the refreshed OpenAI board.

"We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board. We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance. Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OpenAI leadership team in ensuring OpenAI continues to thrive and build on its mission," he wrote on X.

"We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners."

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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