Sam Altman to Return as OpenAI CEO Following In-Principle Agreement

"I’m looking forward to returning to OpenAI, and building on our strong partnership with msft (Microsoft)," Altman said in a post early Wednesday.

AccessTimeIconNov 22, 2023 at 6:17 a.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2024 at 2:57 p.m. UTC
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  • Sam Altman, the founder of artificial intelligence startup OpenAI, was ousted from the company last week, prompting backlash from employees and shareholders.
  • An in-principle agreement could bring him back as CEO, the company said on Wednesday.

OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman is set to return as the chief executive officer of the artificial intelligence startup nearly a week after he was ousted from the company's board, prompting backlash from employees and key stakeholders.

"We have reached an agreement in principle for Sam Altman to return to OpenAI as CEO with a new initial board of Bret Taylor (Chair), Larry Summers, and Adam D'Angelo," OpenAI said in an X post on Wednesday morning.

"I’m looking forward to returning to openai, and building on our strong partnership with msft (Microsoft)," Altman said in a post early Wednesday.

Altman was forced out of his role last weekend because he "was not consistently candid in his communications" with the board. A leaked memo was not specific about why Altman was forced to depart from the company, which said the firing "was not made in response to malfeasance or anything related to our financial, business, safety, or security/privacy practices."

But OpenAI’s loss was someone else’s gain. Earlier this week, reports emerged that Altman, Greg Brockman, the company's co-founder and president, and other former staff members would be joining software giant Microsoft, one of the key investors in the AI startup.

OpenAI's major investors, led by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, reportedly pushed to reinstate Altman as CEO and replace the current board following the unexpected firing, with intense negotiations involved in the process.

Altman’s departure even sparked criticism from hundreds of OpenAI employees – even prompting a note to the board threatening to leave the company to join Altman unless the board formally resigned.

Blockchain betters cash out

Prediction market traders on Polymarket have been enthusiastically betting on this Macbethian corporate saga, with some winning over $10,000.

According to on-chain data, Xinako, who describes themselves as a China-based crypto and NFT investor on X, currently has a position worth $44,777 to the "Yes" side of the "Sam Back as CEO of OpenAI" contract.

(Polymarket)
(Polymarket)

Their position is up 50%, as they bought in at an average of 65 cents, adding $14,956, to their book value.

Another user called Berkeleyverse has seen their position increase by 114%, buying in at 46 cents, bringing their book value to $10,703.

On the flip side, a user going by the name of Ilya Sutskever (a reference to OpenAI's chief scientist who reportedly had a poor relationship with Altman) holds the largest no position currently worth $616. This user has lost 94% of the book value of the bet, or $10,000.

In total, over $275,000 was bet on the contract, with another $40,000 bet on if Shear would be CEO of OpenAI by the end of the week.

Even though both Altman, OpenAI, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella have announced Altman's return to the company, the Polymarket contract currently isn't resolved — meaning bets aren't finalized — because there has yet to be a resolution posted to UMA, the oracle that resolves prediction market contracts like this.

During the hunt for the Titan submarine, which ended up imploding and killing its passengers, the UMA oracle was in the spotlight because of a debate on if the submarine had been found, focused on the semantics of the word.

The issue of whether the submarine was found was sent to UMA, and put to a vote with hopes the decentralized dispute resolver would find the truth in the word's meaning.

UMA's ruling in favor of the "yes" bettors sparked further debate, highlighting concerns about its voting process being controlled by a few token holders and questioning the fairness and decentralization of such systems in crypto, DLNews reported.

UPDATE (Nov. 22, 2023, 08:26 UTC): Adds details about Polymarket bets.

UPDATE (Nov. 22, 2023, 6:33 UTC): Adds additional details throughout.

Edited by Sandali Handagama.

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Shaurya Malwa

Shaurya is the Deputy Managing Editor for the Data & Tokens team, focusing on decentralized finance, markets, on-chain data, and governance across all major and minor blockchains.


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