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In a shocking twist in the unfolding saga at OpenAI, news broke just before 6am on Monday that 500 of OpenAI’s 700 employees have asked the remaining board of OpenAI to resign.
In a letter signed by twelve high-ranking employees, including surprisingly co-founder Ilya Sutskever, the group said they could step down if board members did not resign immediately. Reporter Kara Swisher said in a tweet early Monday that the letter was supported by 505 of the company’s 700 employees, adding that she shared a copy of the letter.
In the letter, the group of leaders said they had heard the board’s concerns following the decision to fire CEO Sam Altman and had tried to collaborate with board members to bring stability, but board members did not want specific facts. Or did not respond at all. Written evidence regarding its allegations. The group said it has realized that the board is not capable of performing its duties and is negotiating with ulterior motives.
The group said that within two days of the decision, the board replaced interim CEO Mira Muratti against the company’s best interests. You also informed the leadership team that allowing the company to be liquidated would be ‘consistent with the mission.’
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“Your actions make it clear that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” the letter continued. “We are unable to work for or with people who lack the competence, judgment and care for our mission and employees.”
The group said Microsoft had assured it that there were positions for all OpenAI employees in the new subsidiary if they chose to join. (In separate news early Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced he has hired former CEO Altman, co-founder Greg Brockman and others to join a new effort at Microsoft.) He Said that unless all the current board members resign, they will resign immediately. The Board appoints two new lead independent directors, Brett Taylor and Will Hurd, and reinstates Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.
What was surprising was that co-founder Sutskever was a signatory to the letter. It was widely reported on Friday, including by co-founder Greg Brockman, who provided a timeline of events, that Sutskever led the firing process for Altman. But in this light, it may be that Sutskever would have agreed to go along with the initial board decision, given that a majority of the board had voted in favor of firing Altman, and as a company executive. Had led the negotiations because of his role, and then changed his mind after the weekend’s events. Shortly before the letter was released, Sutskever tweeted that he “deeply regretted” his involvement in the board’s actions.
I deeply regret my involvement in the Board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we have built together and I will do everything I can to bring the company back together.
– Ilya Sutskever (@ilyasut) 20 November 2023
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