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Sam Altman is said to be discussing return to OpenAI with company’s board

Sam Altman during a fireside chat organized by Softbank Ventures Asia in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, June 9, 2023.SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, two top executives at OpenAI who left the company after a dramatic board meeting Friday, are talking again with board members about returning to the artificial intelligence startup, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The discussions follow an outcry after Altman, 38, was ousted from his role as OpenAI’s CEO a day earlier. Since then, OpenAI’s investors and Altman’s supporters have pressured the four board members of the startup to bring Altman back, six people with knowledge of the matter said.

Microsoft, which has invested $13 billion in OpenAI, was leading the pressure campaign, one of the people said. OpenAI investors who have expressed support for Altman to be reinstated were also willing to invest if he were to start a new company, something he began discussing almost immediately after he was forced out, people with knowledge of the situation said.


The effort was the latest twist in a fast-moving drama at OpenAI. The San Francisco startup rocked the world last year when it released the chatbot ChatGPT and showed the power of AI, with Altman rapidly becoming the face of the industry. But Friday, OpenAI abruptly announced that its board had removed Altman as CEO.

The ouster caused waves across the tech industry, where Altman is well known not only from OpenAI but from his years leading Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley startup incubator. OpenAI is backed by powerful investors — including Microsoft, Thrive Capital and Sequoia Capital — and many of them did not learn about Altman’s exit until a minute before his departure was announced or after the news became public.

OpenAI is controlled by a nonprofit. It had six board members before Altman was pushed out and Brockman, OpenAI’s president and a board member, quit in protest Friday.

Because of OpenAI’s unique structure, its investors have no official say in what happens to the company or who leads it. But investor support is still critical for the startup, which will need to continue raising money as it develops its technology.


OpenAI, Microsoft and Thrive Capital declined to comment.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.