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Sam Altman Reinstated to OpenAI Board Amid Legal Battle with Elon Musk

In a significant turn of events, Sam Altman has made his comeback to the OpenAI board after a tumultuous period in November 2023 that saw him briefly removed from the organization.

OpenAI announced on March 8 that Altman rejoined its board of directors, a decision accompanied by the addition of three new board members: Sue Desmond-Hellmann, previously CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Nicole Seligman, former executive vice president and general counsel at Sony Corporation; and Fidji Simo, chair of Instacart.

Altman’s reinstatement comes after a dramatic episode four months earlier when he was abruptly ousted from the board and dismissed from his CEO position.

Reports from Cointelegraph in November highlighted that Altman was terminated for purportedly not being “not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”

The move to dismiss Altman led to a significant backlash within OpenAI, with a majority of the employees, 505 out of 700, signing a letter demanding the board’s resignation.

On the day of the announcement about Altman’s return, OpenAI also disclosed that WilmerHale, a law firm, conducted an investigation involving interviews with several board members and a review of over 30,000 documents.

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The findings suggested that the board’s previous decision to remove Altman was unexpectedly destabilizing for the company.

Bret Taylor, the chair of the OpenAI board, stated, “We have unanimously concluded that Sam and Greg are the right leaders for OpenAI,” affirming their confidence in Altman and Greg Brockman’s leadership.

Furthermore, on March 6, OpenAI shared details of communications with Elon Musk, who expressed a desire to shift the company’s direction towards a “for-profit” model.

This disclosure followed a lawsuit Musk filed against OpenAI on February 29, accusing the company of deviating from its original commitment to openly share AI advancements, facilitated by a partnership with Microsoft.

Musk’s legal action seeks to ensure OpenAI adheres to its foundational open-source ethos while also attempting to halt the commercial exploitation of artificial general intelligence technology.

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