Sam Altman will not return as CEO Of OpenAI


OpenAI’s board of directors has selected former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear as interim CEO, three sources told Forbes.
OpenAI CEO Samuel Altman Testifies To Senate Committee On Rules For Artificial Intelligence

Sam Altman testifies before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law May 16, 2023 in Washington, DC.

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News of the appointment was previously reported by The Information late Sunday night. Cofounder Ilya Sutskever wrote to staff that Altman would not be returning, according to the report. Bloomberg also reported the move.

Shear is known as an outspoken member of the “safety” side of AI discourse. He’s said earlier this year in an interview that its existential risk should make you “shit your pants,” and has talked about AI safety on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, as being like navigating “the creation of an alien god.”

The latest twist in a weekend-long saga ends Altman’s leadership role at the company with more finality after he’d been abruptly ousted in a corporate coup on Friday. Supporters of Altman led by Microsoft and including investors and key employees had pressured OpenAI’s board of directors to take back Altman, or face the widespread resignation of OpenAI’s researchers and withdrawal of Microsoft’s support.

Altman and Greg Brockman, who was also removed from the board on Friday and resigned his position as president shortly thereafter, were already planning to raise capital for a new startup if they were not reinstated, two sources previously told Forbes.

On Saturday, numerous key executives and leaders at OpenAI had shared their support for Altman on Twitter; they included chief operating officer Brad Lightcap and chief technology officer Mira Murati, who was installed as interim CEO on Friday and is now being replaced by Shear. The purpose of the posts, mostly in the form of heart emojis, was to signal who might depart OpenAI if Altman were not restored, according to The Verge.

Jason Kwon, the chief strategy officer, wrote to staff in an internal memo Saturday night that management was “optimistic” about bringing back Altman, Brockman and a handful of researchers who had already resigned in their wake, according to The Information.

Absent from the supporters was Sutskever, the chief scientist, who led the boardroom coup in the boil-up of a schism over Altman-led commercialization and Sutskever’s advocacy for AI safety. In July, OpenAI announced that Sutskever would co-lead a team which would dedicate 20% of the company’s computing resources to efforts around “superintelligence alignment.” Alignment refers to a field of AI safety research around solutions to supervise AI to ensure they follow human-controlled outcomes, even if they grow smarter than humans.

Ultimately, the unusually-governed board — which as Forbes reported on Friday consisted of Sutskever, safety experts and AI researchers, as well as Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo — doubled down on removing Altman and Brockman and turned to Shear in a fast-paced search. Shear cofounded Twitch in 2011 and sold the streaming video service to Amazon for $970 million in 2014; he stayed on as its CEO until this past March. Since April, he has been a part-time partner at Y Combinator, the startup accelerator which was formerly led by Altman. One of Shear’s cofounders at Twitch, Kyle Vogt, resigned as CEO of embattled robotaxi company Cruise earlier on Sunday.

On Saturday, Forbes first reported that investors were plotting a bid to restore Altman, that would include Microsoft and key employees exerting leverage. OpenAI’s backers, which include prominent venture capitalists Reid Hoffman and Vinod Khosla, had been blindsided by Altman’s ouster the day prior, Forbes also reported. At least one prominent stakeholder, Sequoia, was in contact with Microsoft to push for the reinstatements, a source said.

Altman’s camp and OpenAI’s board had previously set two 5 p.m. Pacific Time negotiating deadlines on Saturday and Sunday that passed without resolution. Microsoft, which committed to invest $10 billion into OpenAI earlier this year, led the effort to restore Altman. It had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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