Sam Altman Out at OpenAI as Company Descends Into Chaos
In a statement, the board of directors said: “OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity. The board remains fully committed to serving this mission. We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward. As the leader of the company’s research, product, and safety functions, Mira is exceptionally qualified to step into the role of interim CEO. We have the utmost confidence in her ability to lead OpenAI during this transition period.”
The company also hinted at communication issues with Altman stating: “Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”
As a part of the transition, Greg Brockman was set to step down as chairman of the board and remain in his role at the company, reporting to the CEO. However, Brockman quit the same day in solidarity with Altman.
As of Sunday, Nov. 19, Emmett Shear, the former CEO of Twitch, will join OpenAI as interim CEO. He replaces Murati who will return to her role as OpenAI’s chief technology officer.
Meanwhile, it was announced on Monday, Nov. 20 that both Altman and Brockman would be joining Microsoft. Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement, “We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett Shear and OAI’s new leadership team and working with them. And we’re extremely excited to share the news that Sam Altman and Greg Brockman, together with colleagues, will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team. We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success.”
Since the ousting and the subsequent Microsoft news, OpenAI has seemingly descended into a rather chaotic situation. According to multiple reports, over 500 employees have signed a letter demanding the current OpenAI board resign and reinstate Altman immediately.
“Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI. We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees,” said the employees. They employees also stated they have been “assured” by Microsoft that there are positions for them working under Altman and Brockman and they would choose to take those unless all current board members resign, along with other conditions. Below is an alleged copy of the letter as shared on Twitter by journalist Kara Swisher.
OpenAI’s chief scientist Ilya Sutskever, also a board member, said this morning on Twitter, “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”
As of the close of business on November 20, it does not appear that Altman has any plans to return to OpenAI and the future of the company’s myriad of employees who signed the letter seems uncertain.