<p>The shocking news of Sam Altman's dismissal on November 17 sent

The Timeline of Sam Altman's Departure and Return to OpenAI

The shocking news of Sam Altman's dismissal on November 17 sent out a wave of opposition within OpenAI. This unexpected decision, not attributed to any specific wrongdoing, led to a massive organisational shake-up. 

Resignations and Employee Reaction 

Following Altman's departure, Greg Brockman, co-founder and president of OpenAI, along with three senior researchers, resigned in a show of solidarity. The company faced internal turmoil as nearly 500 of its approximately 770 employees threatened to resign unless Altman was reinstated, a clear indication of his integral role and respect within the organisation. 

Altman's Shift to Microsoft 

In the midst of this chaos, Altman announced his move to join Microsoft to lead a new AI research team. This transition raised questions about the future direction and leadership of OpenAI, adding to the uncertainty and speculation about the company's next steps. 

Board Decisions and Potential Mergers 

During this chaotic period, OpenAI’s board made several critical decisions and explored strategic alternatives. One of the most notable moves was the board's approach to Dario Amodei, co-founder of Anthropic (a rival AI firm), proposing a potential merger and offering him the CEO position at OpenAI. Amodei declined the offer, leaving the board scratching their heads about the company's leadership and direction.

The board faced mounting pressure from both investors and staff, who were strongly advocating for Altman's return and wrote an open letter to that effect. This collective demand for Altman’s reinstatement highlighted his perceived value and the concern over the company's stability in his absence.

The board entered into negotiations regarding Altman’s potential return. However, the decision-making process was marked by delays and indecision, missing a critical deadline set by staff for resolution. This hesitance reflected the complexities and challenges faced by the board in navigating the situation. 

The Reinstatement Agreement

On November 21, they reached a breakthrough with the announcement of an agreement for Altman’s return as CEO. This decision was accompanied by the formation of a new board, signalling a strategic shift in governance and a response to the demands of employees and investors. The new board included notable figures such as Bret Taylor and Larry Summers, showing a move towards a more balanced and diverse leadership structure.


The events following Sam Altman's dismissal and preceding his reinstatement at OpenAI were characterised by a mixture of uncertainty, strategic considerations, and strong stakeholder reactions. These developments highlight the importance of leadership continuity, effective communication and stakeholder engagement in the management of cutting-edge technology companies.