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OpenAI board says Sam Altman will not return as CEO

The board of directors of OpenAI, an ambitious artificial intelligence startup, said in a note to employees Sunday night that its former chief executive, Sam Altman, would not return to the job, while appointing His second interim successor in two years. sky.

Former Twitch CEO Emmett Shear will succeed Mira Murati as OpenAI’s interim CEO, the board said.Ms. Murati, a long-time OpenAI executive, is taking over The downfall of Mr. Altman The board said Mr. Shear “has unique skills, expertise and relationships that will drive OpenAI forward,” according to the memo seen by The New York Times.

“The board of directors stands firmly by its decision as the only way to advance and defend OpenAI’s mission,” Mr. Altman said in the memo, which was signed by four directors at the company’s shareholder meeting. . Board members: Adam D’Angelo, Helen Toner, Ilya Sutskever and Tasha McCauley.

“Simply put, Sam’s conduct and lack of transparency in his interactions with the Board undermined the Board’s ability to effectively oversee the Company in the manner authorized to do so,” the memo said.

Mr. Altman’s firing shocked the technology industry and OpenAI investors, including Microsoft, Sequoia Capital, and Thrive Capital. Microsoft, which has invested more than $13 billion in OpenAI, learned of Mr. Altman’s exit a minute before it was announced, while other companies found out about his forced departure after investors found out via social media. They received no further information or updates over the weekend.

The departure of Mr. Altman, 38, has also drawn attention to divisions in the artificial intelligence community, with some viewing it as the most important new technology after the web browser and others concerned about the pace of development. Going fast can be dangerous. Mr. Sutskever is particularly concerned that Mr. Altman is too focused on building OpenAI’s business and not paying enough attention to the dangers of AI.

The board’s decision to oust Mr. Altman shocked industry allies and rank-and-file employees who had supported the charismatic founder. Silicon Valley investors and technology executives expressed support for Mr. Altman and his co-founder Greg Brockman, who stood up in protest.By Friday evening, Mr. Altman had Pitching a new artificial intelligence startup to investors and plans to start a company with Mr. Brockman.

Artificial intelligence has captured the public imagination since OpenAI released its popular ChatGPT chatbot about a year ago, with hopes that it could be used for important tasks such as drug research or helping educate children. But some AI scientists and political leaders worry about its risks, such as jobs being automated away or autonomous warfare beyond human control.

OpenAI and its former CEO, who has done more than anyone to make artificial intelligence a mainstream conversation over the past year, has been at the center of this discussion.

The board did not cite Mr. Altman’s specific incidents as grounds for his removal, but claimed that Mr. Altman had “lost the trust of the board” and that his removal was “necessary to preserve the board’s competence.” To carry out their responsibilities and advance the mission of the organization. “

“It is critical that any CEO be honest and transparent with the board,” the memo said.

OpenAI, Mr Altman and Microsoft, OpenAI’s largest investor, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The AI ​​company has an unusual governance structure in that it is controlled by a nonprofit’s board of directors that determines the company’s leadership, while its investors have no formal way to influence decisions.

Some OpenAI employees have pledged to quit OpenAI or join Mr. Altman’s new potential ventures if the board doesn’t budge.But even if Mr. Altman pushes hard to sell a new company, investors still Promote return Mr. Altman and Mr. Brockman.

Throughout the weekend, Altman and his supporters pressed on to OpenAI’s board of directors with appeals from venture capitalists, other tech executives and employees. Three people familiar with the matter said Microsoft was spearheading the effort, while smaller investors used Microsoft to express their concerns.

The move is intended to demonstrate to the company’s board of directors how popular Mr. Altman is among OpenAI employees and across Silicon Valley, people familiar with the matter said.

The lack of details about the reasons for Mr Altman’s ouster has emboldened his supporters. Some believe that OpenAI’s nonprofit board of directors can no longer support the business OpenAI has grown – a company with 700 employees, numerous customers and corporate partners, and the promise of $1 in profits. Annual revenue reaches 100 million yuan.

Messrs. Altman, Brockman and Sutskever co-founded OpenAI in 2015 with nine others, including Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk. The group founded the artificial intelligence lab as a nonprofit and said that unlike Google and other tech giants, it will not be driven by commercial incentives.

After Musk parted ways with OpenAI in 2018, Altman transformed the lab into a for-profit company controlled by the nonprofit and its board of directors. Over the next few years, he raised the billions of dollars the company needed to build technologies like ChatGPT.

Before joining OpenAI, Mr. Shear led Twitch’s transformation from an upstart platform called to the behemoth that was acquired by Amazon in 2014.He stayed on after the tech giant took over until leaving earlier this year, he said he is giving birth.

Schell, a longtime video gamer, is seen as a competent leader at Twitch, but has also faced criticism. He was seen as too focused on cutting costs and turning loss-making sites into more profitable businesses.

“We apologize for this sudden turn of events as we believe the situation necessitates it. Even understanding the issues it raises, we continue to believe our actions are necessary,” the board said in the memo.

Karen Browning, Karen Weiss, Erin Griffith and Tripp Mikel Contributed reporting.

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