The company responsible for ChatGPT, OpenAI, is facing turmoil as many of its employees have threatened to quit unless the board reinstates their former CEO, Sam Altman, and resigns.
550 out of 700 employees of OpenAI signed a letter calling for the board to step down and warned that they may leave if Altman is not reinstated.
On Friday, Altman was terminated, causing surprise in Silicon Valley, upsetting the employees of the company, and causing other tech companies to be on the lookout for a potential loss of skilled workers.
The message addressed to the four remaining members of OpenAI’s board states that their actions have demonstrated their inability to effectively lead the organization. The sender expresses their unwillingness to collaborate with individuals who lack the necessary skills, decision-making abilities, and consideration for the company’s mission and staff.
The article mentions that the people who signed the document may potentially join Altman and former president of OpenAI, Greg Brockman, at Microsoft. This comes after Microsoft announced on Monday that they have hired the two to lead a new AI research team. Microsoft is currently the largest shareholder of OpenAI.
The employees have expressed their intention to leave OpenAI and join the recently announced Microsoft subsidiary led by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. This change will be made soon, unless all current board members step down and Sam Altman and Greg Brockman are reinstated. The letter was initially reported by Wired and journalist Kara Swisher.
OpenAI was established as a non-profit organization. It oversees a commercial branch that was previously managed by Altman until Friday. The 38-year-old has gained international recognition as an executive due to the success of ChatGPT, an AI system for generating text that reached 100 million users shortly after its release in November of last year.
The nonprofit board now includes four individuals: Ilya Sutskever, the chief scientist at OpenAI; Adam D’Angelo, the creator of Quora; Tasha McCauley, a technology entrepreneur; and Helen Toner, a director at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.
Unexpectedly, Sutskever supported his own removal from the board by signing the open letter along with 550 others.
Mira Murati, the chief technology officer at OpenAI, was among other individuals who also signed the document. Murati briefly served as interim CEO after Altman’s departure, but was subsequently replaced on Sunday by Emmett Shear, the co-founder of Twitch, a video game streaming platform.
In a post on X, Shear refuted claims that Altman left due to safety concerns at the company. The success of ChatGPT has sparked worries among certain experts, politicians, and tech professionals that AI companies are in a competition to create systems that can bypass human oversight.
The OpenAI board issued a sudden statement on Friday, stating that Altman was terminated for not being transparent enough in his communication. No additional details were provided.
On Monday, Sutskever expressed remorse for his involvement in Altman’s departure by adding his signature to the letter. On X, he posted, “I am truly sorry for my contribution to the board’s decisions. My intention was never to harm OpenAI. I have a deep appreciation for everything we have achieved together and I am committed to bringing the company back together.”
Altman’s hiring also pulls into focus Microsoft’s relationship with OpenAI, in which it owns a 49% stake and has backed with a multibillion-dollar investment. Dan Ives, an analyst at the US financial services firm Wedbush Securities, said Altman was still in control of OpenAI.
According to him, Altman will now have the dominant decision-making power at OpenAI while being positioned at Microsoft, despite the board’s chaotic actions over the weekend.