Sam Altman, a key figure in the artificial intelligence revolution, will not be returning as the chief executive of OpenAI, despite ongoing discussions aimed at renegotiating his return on Sunday. This development adds another layer of complexity to one of Silicon Valley’s most intense boardroom showdowns.
Altman was abruptly removed as the CEO of OpenAI over the weekend, causing a stir in the tech industry, which not only shocked the company’s employees but also blindsided OpenAI’s investors including Microsoft.
Emmett Shear, co-founder of Twitch, the popular video game streaming platform acquired by Amazon in 2014, is now appointed as the interim CEO of OpenAI. This change will see him taking over from Mira Murati, who was appointed as interim CEO during a management reshuffle on Friday, as per information from a source familiar with the situation.
The statement from OpenAI, which was somewhat unclear in detailing the reasons for Sam Altman’s departure, highlighted concerns about his lack of consistent “candid” communication with the board. The company also removed its chairman and president Greg Brockman from the board, but shortly after the press release, Brockman announced that he quit, saying that he and Sam were shocked and saddened by this sudden decision.
One of the sources directly involved with OpenAI also said, “It is nuts for sure. So much value and mission destroyed overnight.”
Sunday saw Altman at the OpenAI office engaging in discussions about the potential of his return to the company. Conversations among Altman, the board, and investors, which included Microsoft and venture capital firms, delved into the possibility of Altman’s comeback and the consideration of bringing in new directors to replace the existing board. Several names were floated, including Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and former Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.
Yet, by late Sunday night, these discussions had hit a deadlock, prompting the board to announce the appointment of Emmett Shear as interim CEO to the employees.