OpenAI has taken a completely different tack and appointed former Twitch CEO and co-founder Emmett Shear as interim CEO, following a weekend of talks to perhaps reinstate Sam Altman as OpenAI CEO following his shocking termination.
He will succeed Mira Murati, who openly supported Altman, as CEO.
For those keeping track, that's three CEOs in three days.
Shear's unexpected nomination follows, according to several sources, the refusal of OpenAI's four-member board to resign and allow Altman to rejoin.
The Information broke the story first, claiming that workers were informed on Sunday that replacing Altman was the "only path" to realising the company's goal of creating artificial general intelligence that was "broadly beneficial." Requests for response from OpenAI spokespeople were not answered.
The biggest investor in OpenAI, Microsoft, appears to have made the most out of the circumstances. CEO Satya Nadella stated that "we remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap" in a statement on Sunday night.
To "lead a new advanced AI research team," Altman and former president Greg Brockman are joining Microsoft "with colleagues."
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources needed for their success,” Nadella said.
The board said that Altman had not been "consistently candid in his communications," which led to his abrupt resignation from OpenAI.
The board swiftly discussed his return in response to investor pressure and the possibility of a widespread staff strike, as we reported on Saturday.
The remaining board members were faced with a wave of resignations from staff members if they failed to step down and restore Altman and fellow co-founder Greg Brockman by Saturday at 5pm PT, as stipulated by Altman's camp. Numerous OpenAI workers began endorsing Altman on social media after the deadline expired.
On Sunday, Altman went back to the OpenAI office and declared that it would be the "first and last time" he wore a visitor card. This implied that he would either not enter the facility again or return as CEO. Another deadline of Sunday at 5pm to agree on a ceasefire was missed.
Ilya Sutskever, the head scientist at OpenAI, Adam D'Angelo, CEO of Quora, Tasha McCauley, former CEO of GeoSim Systems, and Helen Toner, director of strategy at Georgetown's Centre for Security and Emerging Technology, make up the board that governs the nonprofit parent organisation.
The key figure in Altman's dismissal was Sutskever, a prominent researcher in the area who is believed to have burned a wooden effigy depicting "unaligned" AI on fire at a work offsite.
Given that Shear isn't regarded as a leader in the field, it is surprising to name him as the CEO of the most well-known AI business in the world. He departed Twitch in March, just in time for a big wave of layoffs.
In October, there was another round of layoffs. 2014 saw Amazon purchase the live-streaming service for $1 billion.
“Today I got a call inviting me to consider a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to become the interim CEO of @OpenAI,” Shear wrote on X. “After consulting with my family and reflecting on it for just a few hours, I accepted.”
“OpenAI employees are extremely impressive, as you might have guessed, and mission-driven in the extreme,” he continued. “And it’s clear that the process and communications around Sam’s removal have been handled very badly, which has seriously damaged our trust.”
He went on to say that the board didn’t fire Altman “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 commercialising our awesome models.”
Just a year ago, with the debut of ChatGPT, OpenAI's profile took off. Altman said earlier this month that it is one of the platforms with the greatest growth rates ever, with over 100 million weekly users.
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