Sam Altman is back on OpenAI's board of directors after an investigation cleared him

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Key notes

  • After a special investigation into his firing and reinstatement, Sam Altman has been cleared by the OpenAI Board
  • The ChatGPT maker says Altman will be returning to OpenAI’s board of directors
  • Joining Atman will be a former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, former EVP and General Counsel at Sony Corporation, and the CEO and Chair of Instacart

OpenAI, the folks behind ChatGPT, announced late Friday evening that Sam Altman is back on its board of directors. The move comes after an investigation cleared Atman of any wrongdoing from his November 2023 ousting by the board, and his eventual dramatic return as CEO just a few days after. Altman will also now be joined by three other new individuals on the board at OpenAI.

Starting first with the results of the investigation that’s leading to Altman being restored to the board, which factor into today’s news, things do seem very vague at the moment. OpenAI says in a press release that WilmerHale, the law firm which conducted the investigation examined more than 30,000 documents and conducted interviews and found that there was a “breakdown in trust between the prior Board and Mr. Altman.” They added that “the prior Board acted within its broad discretion to terminate Mr. Altman, but also found that his conduct did not mandate removal.”

OpenAI’s press release also mentioned internal challenges and other issues at OpenAI happening at the time of Altman’s ousting. Still, the board’s intent to remove him was wrong. “The prior Board’s decision did not arise out of concerns regarding product safety or security, the pace of development, OpenAI’s finances, or its statements to investors, customers, or business partners,” reads the report.

The timing of the decision to oust Altman also seemed to be a factor. “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,” says the report.

As for what’s happening on the board at OpenAI now, not only is Altman rejoining, but Sue Desmond-Hellmann, Nicole Seligman, and Fidji Simo are joining, too. Hellmann is the former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Seligman is the former EVP and General Counsel at Sony Corporation. Simo, meanwhile, is CEO and Chair of Instacart.

Altman is one of the most influential people in the technology space right now, and his original ousting upset many people, including Microsoft, which is a heavy investor in OpenAI. The Verge reports that Altman might have had issues with a former OpenAI board member, Helen Toner, over her academic work that criticized OpenAI, as well as her pointing out conflicts of interest that Atlman might have had.

Today’s results of the investigation and report made no mention of that. It details detail that Open AI will strengthen its conflict of interest policy, make a whistleblower hotline, change corporate governance guidelines, and create additional board committees.

More about the topics: ChatGPT, openAI, Sam Altman