More than 500 OpenAI employees threatened to leave the company unless the board resigns and reinstates CEO Sam Altman, who was shockingly ousted by the board on Friday – then hired over the weekend by Microsoft.
“The process through which you terminated Sam Altman and removed Greg Brockman from the board has jeopardized all of this work and undermined our mission and company” the staff-signed statement reads. “Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI.”
Notably, OpenAI’s chief scientist and board member Ilya Sutskever also signed the letter, signifying a change in tune. Sutskever was considered to be instrumental in the removal of Altman.
Just before the letter was released, Sutskever took to X, posting that “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.”
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.— Ilya Sutskever (@ilyasut) November 20, 2023
Altman’s ouster on Friday angered investors including Microsoft who was unaware of the move until a minute before it went public. Since then, rumors swirled that Altman would be brought back into the fold after engaging in negotiations at the company’s headquarters.
However, late Sunday night, the board told employees that Altman would not be returning. Shortly after, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Altman and former president Greg Brockman would be joining the company to lead a new advanced AI research unit.
We remain committed to our partnership with OpenAI and have confidence in our product roadmap, our ability to continue to innovate with everything we announced at Microsoft Ignite, and in continuing to support our customers and partners. We look forward to getting to know Emmett…— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 20, 2023
Immediately following Altman’s ouster on Friday, OpenAI’s chief technology officer Mira Murati was appointed as interim CEO. However, on Sunday OpenAI’s board chose to remove Murati and appoint a different interim CEO, former CEO of Twitch Emmett Shear.
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
Late Friday night, Altman and Brockman issued a joint statement saying they were “shocked and saddened” by the day’s events, but insisted “we will be fine. Greater things coming soon.”
In a separate statement posted on X, Altman said, “I love you all. today was a weird experience in many ways. but one unexpected one is that it has been sorta like reading your own eulogy while you’re still alive.”
Many OpenAI employees reponded by posting hearts on X, signifying that their loyalities lie with Altman even after his dramtic removal.