After all that, Sam Altman has returned to OpenAI as the company’s CEO after being fired last Friday.

The artificial intelligence firm behind ChatGPT announced on X that it had an “agreement in principle” to reinstate Altman late Tuesday night, Nov. 21, on X (formerly known as Twitter). OpenAI president Greg Brockman, who quit in solidarity with Altman when he was fired last week, also confirmed he was returning to the company as well.

Altman marked the news first with a retweet containing a couple of hearts and a saluting emojis. He then issued a longer message nodding to the turmoil of the past five days, including the brief window where it looked like he was set to join Microsoft (which is already intricately linked to OpenAI via $13 billion in investment funding).

“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 said. “When i decided to join [Microsoft] on sun evening, it was clear that was the best path for me and the team. with the new board and w [Microsoft CEO] Satya [Nadella’s] support, i’m looking forward to returning to openai, and building on our strong partnership with msft.”

Along with Altman and Brockman’s returns, OpenAI revealed its new “initial” board of directors, which no longer includes two members — Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner — who were part of the effort to put Altman in. As for Ilya Sutskever, the OpenAI co-founder who reportedly led the push to remove Altman, and then had a change of heart, his lawyer said in a statement to The New York Times: “Ilya is thrilled that Sam is back as CEO, and he has been working tirelessly for days to make this happen. It is what is best for the company.”

As for the current board, its new members include Bret Taylor, a former exec at Facebook and Salesforce who will serve as chair, and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. There’ll be one holdover from the old board, Adam D’Angelo, who is also CEO of Quora.

OpenAI noted in its tweet, “We are collaborating to figure out the details. Thank you so much for your patience through this.”

Microsoft’s Nadella wrote on Twitter, “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 OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission. We look forward to building on our strong partnership and delivering the value of this next generation of AI to our customers and partners.”

Altman’s return caps off one of the wildest, weirdest few days in recent Silicon Valley memory. Altman was unexpectedly fired last Friday, Nov. 17, with the board stating he “was not consistently candid in his communications.” Reports later suggested there was internal tension over the direction OpenAI was headed and how its technology might be used going forward. 

Altman’s firing, unsurprisingly, created a clusterfuck. OpenAI’s major investors were left to scramble, as many (including Microsoft) only learned of the ouster minutes before it was publicly announced. Meanwhile, many employees at OpenAI were miffed by the decision.


Over the weekend, talks to potentially bring back Altman began, but by Sunday evening, it looked like they had hit a wall. That night, OpenAI’s board reaffirmed its decision to fire Altman and announced Emmett Shear as its new interim CEO; Altman, meanwhile, announced he would be joining Microsoft. 

The chaos continued Monday as hundreds of OpenAI employees signed an open letter threatening to resign and join Altman at Microsoft if the board did not reinstate him and Brockman and resign. It also came out that, despite the announcement, Altman hadn’t technically officially joined Microsoft just yet, and both he and Brockman were leaving open the possibility of returning to OpenAI.