Sam Altman to remain as CEO of OpenAI, rejoin board following external review

Sam Altman will remain as CEO of OpenAI and rejoin its board of directors following an "extensive" external investigation into his temporary ouster last year, the company's board announced on Friday.

The OpenAI Board said it has "full confidence" in the continued leadership of Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman following a monthslong review by the law firm WilmerHale.

MORE: 4 days from fired to re-hired: A timeline of Sam Altman's ouster from OpenAI

The board ousted Altman from OpenAI, the maker of the popular conversation bot ChatGPT, in November. Altman's unexplained exit thrust the company into disarray and sparked an employee revolt, with Brockman quitting in response.

Nearly all 800 employees at OpenAI signed a letter calling for the resignation of the company's board and the return of Altman as CEO.

Microsoft announced it had hired Altman and Brockman to lead a new artificial intelligence department. Then four days after his removal, Altman was reinstated as CEO of OpenAI. Brockman also returned to the company.

PHOTO: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman participates in a discussion during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit, Nov. 16, 2023, in San Francisco.  (Eric Risberg/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman participates in a discussion during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit, Nov. 16, 2023, in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg/AP, FILE)

As part of its review of the events surrounding Altman's removal, WilmerHale conducted dozens of interviews with members of OpenAI’s prior Board, OpenAI executives, advisors to the prior Board, and "other pertinent witnesses," as well as reviewed more than 30,000 documents, the board said.

WilmerHale found there was a "breakdown in trust" between the prior board and Altman that led to him stepping down in November, but that his removal wasn't warranted, the board said.

"WilmerHale found that the prior Board believed at the time that its actions would mitigate internal management challenges and did not anticipate that its actions would destabilize the Company," the board said. "WilmerHale found the prior Board implemented its decision on an abridged timeframe, without advance notice to key stakeholders, and without a full inquiry or an opportunity for Mr. Altman to address the prior Board’s concerns."

MORE: Elon Musk sues OpenAI. Some legal experts cast doubt on the case.

Following the review, OpenAI Board chair Bret Taylor said they have "unanimously concluded" that Altman and Brockman "are the right leaders for OpenAI."

Among other developments announced by the board on Friday, three new members have been elected to the board: Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Nicole Seligman, former executive vice president and global general counsel of Sony and former president of Sony Entertainment; and Fidji Simo, CEO and chair of Instacart.

OpenAI is also creating a whistleblower hotline "to serve as an anonymous reporting resource for all OpenAI employees and contractors," the board said.

Sam Altman to remain as CEO of OpenAI, rejoin board following external review originally appeared on abcnews.go.com