Silicon Valley – November 21, 2023
In a stunning turn of events, the future of OpenAI hangs in uncertainty as hundreds of employees have signed a letter demanding the resignation of the board after failing to reinstate ousted CEO Sam Altman. Altman’s abrupt departure from OpenAI was followed by a weekend of intense boardroom drama, culminating in his decision to join Microsoft and spearhead a new artificial intelligence project.
The letter, first reported by Wired and journalist Kara Swisher and later shared with NBC News, warns of mass resignations unless the current board steps down and appoints two new lead independent directors, specifically naming Bret Taylor and Will Hurd. The employees are also calling for the reinstatement of Sam Altman and former President Greg Brockman.
As of late Monday morning, over 700 signatures adorned the letter, reflecting a significant portion of OpenAI’s approximately 770 employees. The employees express their dissatisfaction, stating, “Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” and emphasizing their inability to work with individuals lacking competence, judgment, and care for the company’s mission and employees.
IlyaSutskever, a board member and co-founder of OpenAI, expressed regret for his role in Altman’s exit, hinting at ongoing efforts to bring him back. Altman quoted the post, adding three hearts, suggesting support for reconciliation within the company.
Emmett Shear, co-founder and former CEO of Twitch, confirmed he would be the new interim CEO of OpenAI. He pledged to conduct a comprehensive review, hiring an independent investigator to delve into the events leading up to Altman’s departure and generate a detailed report.
OpenAI, founded in 2015 with funding from tech billionaires, has become a leader in AI technology, notably with its ChatGPTchatbot app. Microsoft, a major financial backer of OpenAI since 2019, announced Altman’s hiring to lead a “new advanced AI research team” alongside Greg Brockman.
Microsoft Chairman and CEO SatyaNadella reaffirmed support for OpenAI, emphasizing their commitment to the company’s success under new leadership. Altman echoed this sentiment, stating, “The mission continues.”
The controversy surrounding Altman’s departure from OpenAI stems from a review citing his inconsistent communication with the board. Despite the challenges, Altman and Brockman remain optimistic, with greater initiatives on the horizon.
As Silicon Valley watches the unfolding drama, the stability and success of OpenAI remain critical, prompting interim CEO Emmett Shear to take swift action to ensure the company’s continued progress.