Sam Altman will not return as the CEO of OpenAI and ex-Twitch boss Emmett Shear will become the new interim boss, The Information reported on Sunday, citing board director Ilya Sutskever’s statement to the company’s staff.
The decision not to reinstate Altman would confound efforts by investors and employees of the company behind ChatGPT to steady the ship by bringing him back after the board fired him on Friday, in a surprise move that rocked the tech world.
They fear his abrupt sacking could lead to a mass exodus of talent and impact an upcoming $86 billion share sale.
The report said distraught employees “streamed out” of OpenAI headquarters in San Francisco shortly after the decision was announced internally.
Sutskever told the staff that the board members stood by their decision to remove Altman and that his behavior and board interactions undermined the company’s ability to supervise artificial intelligence (AI) development.
Reuters could not immediately verify the statement cited in the report. OpenAI did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Altman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Reuters reported on Sunday that Altman is discussing a possible return to the company behind the ChatGPT bot and improving the company’s governance structure, even as he considers launching a new AI venture.
Altman and Greg Brockman, who stepped down from the OpenAI board as chairman as part of the management shuffle, joined executives at the company’s headquarters on Sunday after interim CEO Mira Murati told staff she invited Altman, The Information earlier reported on Sunday.
Altman posted on Sunday on messaging platform X an image of himself wearing an OpenAI guest badge with the caption: “first and last time i ever wear one of these.”
The appointment of Shear also means that Murati will not stay as the interim CEO, the report said. Shear co-founded Twitch and had stepped down from the Amazon.com Inc.-owned live video streaming platform earlier this year.
If Altman returns to OpenAI, Microsoft (MSFT.O), its biggest backer, is considering taking a role on the board, the Information reported on Sunday, citing two people familiar with the talks.
Microsoft could either take a seat on OpenAI’s board of directors, or as a board observer without voting power, the report added.
Former OpenAI President and co-founder Brockman quit over Altman’s firing on Friday. Their departures blindsided many employees who discovered the abrupt management change from an internal message and the company’s public blog.
Some researchers including Szymon Sidor have also left the company over the CEO change, two people familiar with the matter said. It was unclear if Sidor and others would join a new Altman venture. Sidor confirmed quitting.
OpenAI kicked off the generative AI craze a year ago by releasing ChatGPT. The chatbot became one of the world’s fastest-growing software applications. [Reuters]