After a tumultuous weekend at OpenAI, a contingent of investors and employees tried to convince the company’s board to fire former Y Combinator president Sam Altman on Friday, with Altman not returning as CEO. Will. A report in information.
Citing an internal memo sent by Ilya Sutskever, board director and one of OpenAI’s co-founders, Altman has decided to step away from the negotiations – at least for the time being. As the search for a new permanent CEO continues, OpenAI has appointed Emmett Shearer, co-founder of video streaming site Twitch, as interim CEO – replacing Mira Muratti, who held the position for just two days.
According to Bloomberg’s report, Shear’s concern over the existential threats posed by AI, as well as his experience leading large engineering groups while at Twitch, won over the board.
Muratti is said to be strongly advocating for Altman and planning to appoint him to the position while the six-member board investigates a potential new CEO, who may have something to do with his replacement. We’ve contacted OpenAI for comment and will update this piece if we hear back.
This latest development threatens to worsen an already precarious situation for OpenAI, whose board is facing pressure from all sides to change course after ousting Altman with little input from some of its biggest stakeholders. .
The board’s decision Friday evening to remove Altman and demote OpenAI president and co-founder Greg Brockman, who has resigned, from the position of board chairman reportedly angered Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who Is a major OpenAI supporter and partner. (Nadella is said to be playing a key intermediary role between the board and Altman and has promised to support Altman regardless of the outcome.) OpenAI investors – notably Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital and Thrive Capital – had taken the help of Microsoft to increase the pressure. The board will bring back Altman and Brockman while considering filing a lawsuit against the board members.
Meanwhile, OpenAI’s top executives and rank-and-file associated with Altman left it. Brockman was followed by three senior OpenAI researchers, including research director Jakub Pachocki and head of preparedness Alexander Madry. Others threatened to walk out if both Altman and Brockman were not reinstated.
So what caused all the chaos? That is, a clash of philosophies.
Sutskever said during the company’s all-hands meeting on Friday that he felt it was “essential” to remove Altman to protect OpenAI’s mission of “making AI beneficial to humanity”, revealing that the company’s Altman’s business ambitions were beginning to irritate the kingmakers on the board. This was confirmed by reports over the weekend; Sutskever was said to be “angry” at several announcements at DevDay, OpenAI’s first annual developer conference, such as custom GPTs, which OpenAI has said could one day run autonomously.
Altman reportedly demanded “significant” managerial changes at OpenAI and a new board of directors as a condition of returning; The Wall Street Journal reports that Altman told colleagues it was “ridiculous” that major shareholders had no role in OpenAI’s governance. Salesforce co-CEO Brett Taylor, along with a reportedly Microsoft-aligned member (or alternatively board observer), were among those being considered for the new board.
Bloomberg’s Emily Chang reports Microsoft isn’t happy with Sunday night’s outcome – and that’s not surprising at all. Microsoft shares fell 1.7% on Friday due to volatility in OpenAI, losing about $47 billion in market value.
There are not many employees either. Dozens of employees announced they were leaving OpenAI internally late Sunday night, The Information reported.