Turbulent times at OpenAI: Following a board decision, former Twitch leader Emmett Shear takes over as CEO. Sam Altman, parting ways with the company, establishes a new AI venture.
In discussions about Sam Altman’s potential comeback, the Board of Directors, under the guidance of Ilya Sutskever, engaged with a prospective new leader. They have introduced Emmett Shear, co-founder of the Amazon-owned video streaming platform Twitch, as the interim CEO to the staff. Altman, however, will not be making a return.
The board’s decision, which diverges from earlier statements to employees over the weekend, may exacerbate tensions following the sudden dismissal of Sam Altman and the removal of Greg Brockman from the council on Friday. Sam Altman is now gearing up to launch his own AI firm, potentially attracting top AI researchers from OpenAI with significant funding.
Throughout the weekend, several investors urged the Board of Directors, particularly Ilya Sutskever, to reinstate Altman. However, during these talks, Altman’s stipulation for the board’s resignation was ultimately rejected by them. Altman seemed confident about the acceptance of his conditions, as indicated by his tweet showing his OpenAI guest card, accompanied by the phrase “The first and last time.”
OpenAI remains hopeful about Sam Altman’s return, as indicated by Chief Strategy Officer Jason Kwon in a Saturday internal memo, The Information disclosed. Major investors, notably lead investor Microsoft and the second-largest, Thrive Capital, are concerned about a potential exodus of top AI talent or the prospect of Altman starting a rival firm that might challenge OpenAI’s dominance.
Following Altman’s departure, co-founder Greg Brockman and three senior AI experts resigned in solidarity. Reportedly, over half of OpenAI’s staff has threatened to leave if Altman isn’t reinstated, according to sources. Altman expressed his affection for the OpenAI team on Twitter. The team’s ultimatum is clear: the Board of Directors has one week to resolve the issue, or face significant staff departures. Google’s recruiters reportedly started reaching out to OpenAI’s talent immediately after the weekend.
OpenAI had previously offered substantial four-year, $10 million packages to attract top AI specialists from Google. Thrive Capital was set to finance the equity for these packages but hasn’t yet transferred the funds, signaling that Altman’s exit could affect their support.
Other investors, including influential figures like Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman and Khosla Ventures, actively worked over the weekend to facilitate Altman’s return. Sequoia Capital has allegedly committed to backing Altman and Brockman, whether they choose to return or start a new venture, signaling a challenging future for OpenAI in securing further investments.
Rumors also suggest that key clients might be leaving, a situation potentially exacerbated by Altman to increase pressure. Altman’s extensive network in Silicon Valley could play a role in these developments.
Recent Events Overview
In an unexpected move, OpenAI dismissed its CEO, Sam Altman, on Friday, naming the then CTO, Mira Murati, as the interim CEO. The company has started looking for a permanent CEO, as mentioned in a recent blog post.
The official reason given by the company is based on an internal investigation that found Altman was not always transparent in his dealings with the Board. The company’s statement read: “Following a thorough review by the Board, it was determined that Sam Altman had not maintained consistent transparency in his communications with the Board, hindering its ability to effectively oversee the company. Consequently, the Board has lost confidence in his leadership abilities to continue guiding OpenAI.”