Following a month of chaos, former OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has returned to the role, heading up the company behind chatbot ChatGPT, after being ousted by the board.

Altman’s return as CEO was rumored to have been confirmed in a deal negotiated before Thanksgiving, but has now been officially confirmed in a company-wide memo shared with The Verge.

“I have never been more excited about the future,” wrote Altman. “I am extremely grateful for everyone’s hard work in an unclear and unprecedented situation, and I believe our resilience and spirit set us apart in the industry.”

He emphasized he harbors “no ill will” toward OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, who will no longer sit on the board. However, Altman hopes to “continue our working relationship” and is discussing “how he can continue his work at OpenAI”.

Old CEO, new board for OpenAI

Speaking of board reshuffles, OpenAI’s new board is now made up of chair Bret Taylor, Larry Summers, and Adam D’Ange – the only remaining member from before Altman’s ousting.

In addition, Microsoft will be getting a non-voting observer seat on the nonprofit board that controls OpenAI, after hiring both Altman and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman to head up a special “advanced AI research team”. Altman was given a CEO title, an unusual move for Microsoft, which usually focuses on acquisitions rather than assigning CEOs to new divisions.

Combined with the fact that Microsoft is a major investor in OpenAI, with a 49% stake in the for-profit company that the non-profit board controls, this cements Microsoft as a key player in the future of OpenAI. There’s no word yet on who will take on Microsoft’s non-voting board seat.

How did Sam Altman return to OpenAI?

Hundreds of OpenAI employees added their names to a petition calling for both Altman and Brockman’s reinstallation, surprisingly including Sutskever, who is believed to have been instrumental in pushing the pair out of the company.

“I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI,” wrote Sutskever on X at the time. “I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”

If indeed Sutskever held to this promise, it might well explain the mention of him in Altman’s returning memo, as well as the implication that Sutskever will still be involved in the company moving forward.

Featured Image: Sam Altman provided by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch via Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0 License

Rachael Davis

Freelance Journalist

Rachael Davies has spent six years reporting on tech and entertainment, writing for publications like the Evening Standard, Huffington Post, Dazed, and more. From niche topics like the latest gaming mods to consumer-faced guides on the latest tech, she puts her MA in Convergent Journalism to work, following avenues guided by a variety of interests. As well as writing, she also has experience in editing as the UK Editor of The Mary Sue , as well as speaking on the important of SEO in journalism at the Student Press Association National Conference. You can find her full portfolio over on Muck Rack or follow her on social media on X.