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Sam Altman


Carlos Barria / REUTERS

A few days after his surprise dismissal, Sam Altman will once again become head of ChatGPT developer OpenAI. In addition, the board of directors will be renewed, as OpenAI announced on Wednesday night.

Altman had only been forced out by the old board of directors on Friday and had decided on Sunday to go to OpenAI investor Microsoft. After that, around 700 of OpenAI's 770 employees threatened to follow him – which would have effectively meant the end of the company.

Commenting on the new twist, Altman said he has the backing of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for his return as OpenAI boss. "With the new Board of Directors and Satya's support, I look forward to returning to OpenAI and building on our strong partnership with (Microsoft)," Altman wrote at X.

According to media reports, a dispute over the direction of OpenAI led to Altman's departure. Some executives, such as chief technology officer Ilya Sutskever, felt that Altman wanted to bring artificial intelligence software to market too quickly and with an overly commercial approach. They would have gotten the majority of the board of directors on their side. In the meantime, Sutskever also switched to the Altman camp and publicly regretted his involvement in his dismissal.

Too fast, too commercial?

OpenAI was founded in 2015 as a non-profit organization with a mission to develop artificial intelligence for the benefit of all. However, when it became clear that the necessary billions of dollars in investments could not be found with donations, a for-profit company was formed with Altman at the helm. Among other things, he brought Microsoft on board as an investor and thus secured OpenAI's access to the necessary computing power. However, the conflict between the two approaches grew deeper and deeper.

The chatbot ChatGPT can formulate sentences at the linguistic level of a human. Its release about a year ago sparked an AI hype. OpenAI thus became a pioneer in the technology. Microsoft entered into a multibillion-dollar pact with the company to bring its technology into the company's products. Other tech heavyweights such as Google, Amazon and the Facebook group Meta presented competing software.