In a dramatic turn of events, over 600 employees of artificial intelligence firm OpenAI have threatened to resign and join former CEO Sam Altman at Microsoft unless the company’s board steps down and reinstates Altman. The employees’ ultimatum follows the controversial dismissal of Altman and co-founder Greg Brockman by the board last week.
The employees’ letter criticizes the board’s handling of the situation, stating that their actions have undermined the company’s mission and work. Interestingly, among the signatories is Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI’s chief scientist and board member, who has been accused of orchestrating the boardroom coup against Altman.
The board’s decision to remove Altman was based on allegations of his lack of transparency in communications, which they claimed hindered their responsibilities. Following his dismissal, Mira Murati, OpenAI’s chief technology officer, was appointed as interim CEO. However, after facing backlash from investors, including Microsoft, the board seemed open to Altman’s return. This was short-lived as the board later announced that Altman would not be returning.
In a surprising twist, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Altman and Brockman would be joining Microsoft to lead a new advanced AI research unit. Nadella’s announcement seemed to invite any OpenAI employees willing to leave, promising them the necessary resources for success.
The OpenAI staff’s letter threatens to join Altman at Microsoft, stating that Microsoft has assured positions for all OpenAI employees at the new subsidiary. The letter also calls for the resignation of the current board and the appointment of two new independent lead board members, Bret Taylor and Will Hurd.
This saga underscores the unusual governance structure of OpenAI, which grants a few nonprofit board members significant power over the company. It also highlights the divisive nature of the race to develop AI technology.
Read more at Wired.