Sam Altman, former CEO of ChatGPT producer OpenAI, will not be returning to the company despite requests from the company’s board and will instead be joining Microsoft to head its new AI research unit.
As Valuetainment previously reported, Sam Altman was abruptly fired from his position as CEO by OpenAI’s board of directors on Friday evening. The company’s statement claimed Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications with the board” and thus the board members no longer had “confidence in his ability” to continue leading the firm.
Emmett Shear, the co-founder of Amazon-owned video streaming platform Twitch, will be taking over as interim CEO. This is according to a report from The Information which cited OpenAI co-founder and board member Ilya Sutskever. That report is also the source of the news that Altman will not be returning despite the company’s efforts.
Since Altman’s firing on Friday, the company has been bombarded with pressure from all angles to reverse their decision. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt came to the defense of Altman, as did Khan Academy founder Salman Khan. Microsoft also pressured the firm, according to three sources spoken to by The New York Times, as did many other smaller investors, tech executives, and employees. According to a letter that surfaced on X, some 500 OpenAI employees threatened to quit and join Microsoft if Altman did not get rehired and if the board did not resign.
The OpenAI board also sacked President Greg Brockman, a highly integral member of the company’s engineering team, from his position as board chair earlier last week. Following Altman’s departure, Brockman quit. Three senior researchers followed his lead. On Monday morning, Sutskever expressed his full regret over the ousters, which Altman replied to with three heart emojis.
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 20, 2023
Microsoft announced Monday morning that it has hired Sam Altman to lead a “new advanced AI research team.” Its CEO Satya Nadella wrote on X that the company was “extremely excited” to welcome Altman as well as Brockman to its ranks. It will also be hiring other managers from OpenAI.
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” Nadella wrote.
Nadella also made sure to note that he was looking “forward to getting to know” OpenAI’s new interim CEO Emmett Shear. Shear will be replacing Mira Murati, who was appointed interim CEO on Friday.
“The mission continues,” Altman replied to Nadella.
the mission continues https://t.co/d1pHiFxcSe
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 20, 2023
Additionally, OpenAI informed its employees via a note on Sunday night that Altman would not be returning to his job. “The board firmly stands by its decision as the only path to advance and defend the mission of OpenAI,” the memo read. “Put simply, Sam’s behavior and lack of transparency in his interactions with the board undermined the board’s ability to effectively supervise the company in the manner it was mandated to do.”
In the opinion of Wall Street research firm New Street Research, Altman’s ousting was due to his aggressive push to work on advanced products. “These tensions likely resulted in frustrating communications and Sam making some operational decisions without keeping the board fully aware,” New Street wrote. “The coup, and the sibylline associated blog post, about Sam not being ‘consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities’ resulted from this situation.”
During his time as CEO, Altman turned the obscure startup into a company poised to sell its stock to investors at a valuation over $80 billion. Because of this, Altman became a famous figurehead of AI technology and was tapped as an expert by President Joe Biden, members of Congress, and others.
Now, OpenAI’s future is uncertain, with investors sure to closely monitor the actions of the firm’s new leadership. The newly appointed interim CEO wrote a lengthy post on X to discuss his acceptance of the position and his next steps, which include hiring a private investigator to give him a full report on what led to the firing of Altman.
“PPS: Before I took the job, I checked on the reasoning behind the change,” Shear wrote. “The board did *not* remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that. I’m not crazy enough to take this job without board support for commercializing our awesome models.”
Today I got a call inviting me to consider a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to become the interim CEO of @OpenAI. After consulting with my family and reflecting on it for just a few hours, I accepted. I had recently resigned from my role as CEO of Twitch due to the birth of my…
— Emmett Shear (@eshear) November 20, 2023