Emmett Shear, known for co-founding the popular video streaming platform Twitch, has been appointed as the interim CEO of OpenAI. This marks a notable shift in the company’s direction, as Shear becomes the third OpenAI CEO within a span of just three days.
This was reported by The Information, which stated that its source is OpenAI co-founder and board director Ilya Sutskever. Sutskever told staff that Sam Altman won’t return as CEO of OpenAI, despite efforts by the company’s executives to bring him back.
The circumstances leading to Altman’s departure were dramatic, with reports indicating that he was let go due to issues related to transparency in communications with the board.
This development sent ripples throughout Silicon Valley, particularly considering OpenAI’s prominence and its backing by influential investors like Microsoft. Attempts were made over the weekend to bring Altman back, highlighted by his own tweet showing him outside OpenAI’s offices with a guest pass.
first and last time i ever wear one of these pic.twitter.com/u3iKwyWj0a
— Sam Altman (@sama) November 19, 2023
However, the talks were unsuccessful, and the board decided to move forward with Shear as the new CEO. Shear’s appointment as interim CEO marks the second interim leadership change at OpenAI within just three days. This follows the board’s initial decision on Friday to appoint Mira Murati, the Chief Technology Officer, as interim CEO.
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
In a lengthy post on X, Shear stated that the way Altman was fired was poorly executed, greatly eroding trust within the company. He also shed more light on the reason behind Altman’s firing, saying:
The board did not remove Sam over any specific disagreement on safety, their reasoning was completely different from that.
OpenAI operates under a non-profit parent organization and its board, which oversees a for-profit subsidiary. This subsidiary was where Sam Altman served as CEO.
Following Altman’s departure and the resignation of President Greg Brockman, which occurred after Altman was fired, the governing board now has four members. This includes OpenAI’s Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever and three individuals who are not employees of the company.
OpenAI’s Leadership Shift: Employee Reactions Suggest Potential Departures After CEO Changes
Shortly after Shear’s post on Monday, OpenAI employees started sharing a message on X, saying:
OpenAI is nothing without its people.
Meanwhile, Altman reshared their posts, adding a heart emoji.
On Saturday night, shortly after it was reported that the board that had fired Altman was asking him to return to OpenAI, he shared a message on X expressing his deep affection for the OpenAI team. Following his post, numerous OpenAI employees began resharing it, adding a heart emoji.
According to several sources who spoke to The Verge, this gesture was intended to indicate to the board which employees might be willing to leave OpenAI and join Altman in a new venture. A source noted that:
A very large portion of people were there because of Greg [Brockman, the now-resigned president] and Sam.
This could mean that these latest X posts from OpenAI employees following the announcement of Shear as the new CEO may be indicative of mass resignation at the company.
What’s Next for Altman, Brockman, and OpenAI?
Before anyone could process the removal of Sam Altman, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, tweeted that Altman, Brockman, and some of the researchers who left OpenAI following the recent drama will be joining Microsoft instead.
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
Altman and Brockman will lead an entirely new team called Microsoft Ignite that will be tasked with advanced AI research of some kind. We don’t yet know exactly what this team will be working on beyond that but it will suredly be exciting.
Joining Altman and Brockman on the Microsoft Ignite team are three senior researchers who resigned from OpenAI: Jakub Pachocki, Aleksander Mądry, and Szymon Sidor.
We are going to build something new & it will be incredible.
The mission continues. https://t.co/oAerJnMYQm
— Greg Brockman (@gdb) November 20, 2023