OpenAI Staff Threaten Mass Resignation Unless Board Steps Down

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

OpenAI Staff Threaten Mass Resignation Unless Board Steps Down

Numerous employees at the parent company of ChatGPT, OpenAI, have reportedly signed a letter expressing their intention to leave the tech firm unless "all current board members resign," as reported by US media outlets such as WIRED and the Wall Street Journal.

The letter was prompted by the unexpected decision of the board to dismiss CEO Sam Altman on Friday. In response, OpenAI has appointed former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as interim CEO, while Sam Altman is set to join Microsoft, one of the backers of OpenAI, in an unexpected turn of events for the artificial intelligence startup.

Emmett Shear, in a statement on the social media platform X, addressed speculation about Altman's removal due to disagreements over the safety of powerful AI models. Shear pledged to conduct an investigation into the firing, explore new governance for OpenAI, and continue the company's efforts to make technology like its viral chatbot available.

"I'm not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercializing our awesome models," Shear stated, emphasizing the importance of stability and success for OpenAI.

Altman was dismissed on Friday following a reported "breakdown of communications," according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. Altman was a founding co-chair of the startup that gained attention a year ago with the release of ChatGPT, a chatbot that became one of the world's fastest-growing software applications.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced on X that Altman would become CEO of a new research group within Microsoft, along with other departing OpenAI colleagues. Microsoft has invested significantly in OpenAI and has based its future on the startup, releasing AI copilots to business customers using OpenAI's technology.

In a separate post on X, Altman shared Nadella's message with the words, "the mission continues." The decision not to reinstate Altman as OpenAI's chief has led to concerns among investors and employees about talent loss and the impact on an upcoming $86 billion share sale.

Emotions ran high at OpenAI headquarters in San Francisco, with distraught employees reportedly leaving the office after the internal announcement of Shear's appointment. Several leaders of the startup posted on X on Monday, emphasizing the importance of OpenAI's people.

Shear, co-founder of Twitch, stepped down from the live video streaming platform earlier this year. Some of the recently departed researchers, including Szymon Sidor, are joining the new effort at Microsoft, according to former OpenAI President Brockman.

The conflict between OpenAI's mission to benefit humanity and investors expecting a financial return has long been a point of contention. Analyst Richard Windsor of Radio Free Mobile described the weekend's events as the detonation of a long-awaited bomb. OpenAI is governed as a non-profit, with a four-person board consisting of three independent directors and Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever as of Friday. Mc,Mc,Mc,Mc,Mc,Mc,Mc,Mc,Mc