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500 staff threaten to quit as AI firm implodes

The ChatGPT maker is in disarray after Microsoft snapped up its just sacked CEO while hundreds of staff are threatening to follow him out the door.

Now one of the board members who kicked out OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman has said he regrets the decision while hundreds of staff are threatening to follow the former boss out the door.

There are fears the drama engulfing the ChatGPT artificial intelligence firm could disrupt a planned $122 billion float.

On Friday, the OpenAI board shocked the industry by removing co-founder Mr Altman and appointing chief technology officer Mira Murati as the interim CEO.

Over the weekend, OpenAI rejected pressure from Microsoft and other major investors to reverse its stunning decision.

Sam Altman, former CEO of OpenAI, speaks during The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech Live Conference in Laguna Beach, California on October 17, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)

In a memo sent to employees on Sunday night, it said the sacking was “the only path to advance and defend the mission of OpenAI,” The New York Times reported.

“Put simply, Sam’s behaviour 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”.

There have also been suggestions the board was concerned Mr Altman was underestimating the dangers of its tech.

But Microsoft doesn’t share those concerns and has announced Mr Altman has now been appointed to run a new AI subsidiary.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that Mr Altman “will be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research team,” along with OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman and other colleagues.

“We are going to build something new and it will be incredible. The mission continues,” Mr Brockman said, tagging former director of research Jakub Pachocki, AI risk evaluation head Aleksander Madry, and longtime researcher Szymon Sidor.

(FILES) Founder and former CEO of Twitch Emmett Shear will take over as OpenAI’s new CEO on November 20, 2023, days after the AI firm fired Sam Altman. (Photo by Steve Jennings / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

OpenAI staff threaten to quit

On Monday, hundreds of staff at OpenAI threatened to quit the leading artificial intelligence company and join Mr Altman at Microsoft.

Reports said as many as 500 of OpenAI’s 770 employees signed the letter.

In a letter, some of OpenAI’s most senior staff members threatened to leave the company if the board did not get replaced.

“Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” said the letter, which was first released to magazine Wired.

“Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join,” the letter added.

Included in the list of names of signers was Ilya Sutskever, the company’s chief scientist and one of the members of the four-person board that voted to oust Mr Altman.

“Now 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”, he posted on X.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks during the OpenAI DevDay event on November 06, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Second interim CEO appointed

The signatures included top executive Mira Murati, who was appointed to replace Mr Altman as CEO when he was removed on Friday, but was herself demoted over the weekend.

OpenAI has now appointed Emmett Shear, a former chief executive of Amazon’s streaming platform Twitch, as its new CEO despite pressure from Microsoft and other major investors to reinstate Mr Altman.

Mr Shear confirmed his appointment as OpenAI’s interim CEO in a post on X on Monday, while also…

Read More: 500 staff threaten to quit as AI firm implodes

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