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After being fired as the CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman experienced a tumultuous range of emotions when the company’s board extended an invitation for his return just a day later. Initially met with defiance, hurt, and anger, Altman eventually embraced the opportunity, marking his rehiring to lead the artificial intelligence organization.
In an interview with The Verge, Altman shared his initial response to the board’s proposal: “It took me a few minutes to snap out of it and get over the ego and emotions to then be like, ‘Yeah, of course, I want to do that.” Obviously, I really loved the company and had devoted a significant portion of my life to it for the last four and a half years, but even longer than that with most of my time. We’re making remarkable progress on the mission I deeply care about—achieving safe and beneficial AGI.
After a tumultuous five-day in the boardroom, Altman officially reassumed his role as CEO last week. Notably, Microsoft, a significant investor in the company, is poised to secure a nonvoting board seat.
However, Altman remained cautious when questioned about the circumstances surrounding his firing, consistently deferring to the forthcoming independent investigation initiated by OpenAI’s new board, led by Bret Taylor. Altman expressed his support for this investigation, stating, “I very much welcome that” during the interview.
In response to his sudden departure’s widespread curiosity, Altman refrained from delving into specific details. When asked about the alleged discord between him and the board, he said, “I don’t feel ready to talk about that yet. I think it’s essential to let this review process run.”
Furthermore, Altman refused to provide additional details on Ilya Sutskever’s change of stance.
As for his eventual comeback, Altman disclosed the intricate emotions he initially grappled with, highlighting how his immediate response was characterized by defiance, hurt, and anger. However, upon reflection and considering his commitment to the company’s mission, team, and partners, Altman quickly reconsidered, agreeing to return when approached by the board.
“It was an interesting situation. Some of the board called me Saturday morning and asked if I’d be open to discussing it. My initial reaction was one of defiance. I felt hurt and angry, and I thought this situation was unfortunate,” Altman shared with The Verge’s Alex Heath.