In a letter to the board, 490 OpenAI employees, including CTO Mira Murati and COO Brad Lightcap, said that they would follow OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman, who said he was starting an AI subsidiary at Microsoft following his shock sacking from the company whose ChatGPT chatbot has led the rapid rise of artificial intelligence technology.
“The process through which you terminated Sam Altman and removed Greg Brockman from the board has jeopardized all the work and undermined our mission and company. Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAl,” the employees said in the letter.
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“The leadership team suggested that the most stabilizing path forward – the one that would best serve our mission, company, stakeholders, employees and the public – would be for you to resign and put in place a qualified board that could lead the company forward in stability,” they said.
The letter’s signees include Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and a member of its board, who had been accused of coordinating the boardroom coup against Altman.
Just before the letter was released, Sutskever posted on X: “I deeply regret my participation in the board’s actions. I never intended to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built together and I will do everything I can to reunite the company.”
“Despite many requests for specific facts for your allegations, you have never provided any written evidence. They also increasingly realized you were not capable of carrying out your duties, and were negotiating in bad faith, the letter said.
“Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join. We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign, and the board appoints two new lead independent directors,” the letter concluded.
On November 18, the ChatGPT-maker company, OpenAI fired its CEO Sam Altman. His sacking triggered several other high-profile departures from the company, as well as a reported push by investors to bring him back.
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In a blogpost, the company stated that the board “no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI”. It also added that Altman “was not consistently candid in his communications”.
He was replaced by Mira Murati, who was previously OpenAI’s chief technology officer (CTO). Subsequently, she was also removed from her position after she publicly aligned herself with Altman.
Supporting Emmet Shear as the new interim CEO, the latest company memo seen by The New York Times, stated, “The board said Mr. Shear has a “unique mix of skills, expertise and relationships that will drive OpenAI forward.”
This memo was signed by each of the four directors on the company’s board; Adam D’Angelo, Helen Toner, Ilya Sutskever, and Tasha McCauley.
Talking about reinstating Sam Altman, the memo said, “The board firmly stands by its decision as the only path to advance and defend the mission of OpenAI.”
The memo added, “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.”
(with input from agency)