SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 20 (Reuters) – OpenAI has named former Twitch boss Emmett Shear as interim CEO, while outgoing chief Sam Altman joined Microsoft (MSFT.O), in a twist surprise events which ended a tumultuous weekend for the startup. at the heart of an artificial intelligence boom.
The appointments, settled late Sunday night, followed Altman’s abrupt ouster days earlier as CEO of the ChatGPT maker and ended speculation that he might return.
Microsoft has been racing to lure some of the biggest names that have left OpenAI, including fellow co-founder Greg Brockman, to keep key talent out of the hands of rivals including Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) and Amazon.com (AMZN.O), while seeking to stabilize OpenAI, in which it has invested billions.
The startup’s new interim head quickly dismissed speculation that OpenAI’s board ousted Altman over a feud over the safety of powerful AI models. Shear pledged to open an investigation into the firing, consider new governance for OpenAI, and continue its path toward releasing technology like its viral chatbot.
“I’m not crazy enough to take this job without the support of the board to bring our great models to market,” Shear said, adding: “The stability and success of OpenAI is too important to allow unrest to take away from it. disrupt in this way. »
The startup fired Altman on Friday after a “communications breakdown,” according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
Governing OpenAI is a non-profit organization. As of Friday, its four-person board consists of three independent directors with no stake in OpenAI and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever.
“I deeply regret my participation in the actions of the board of directors. It was never my intention to harm OpenAI. I love everything we have built together and will do everything I can to bring the company together,” Sutskever said in a post on social media platform Xsocial.
Sutskever, along with former interim CEO Mira Murati, were among nearly 500 employees who threatened to leave the company Monday unless the board resigns and reinstates Altman and Brockman, according to a letter viewed by Reuters.
Staff also demanded the appointment of two new independent directors to the board, such as former Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor and former Texas Congressman Will Hurd.
“Your actions have made it clear that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” the employees said in the letter.
“Microsoft assured us that there would be positions for all OpenAI employees in this new subsidiary if we chose to join,” they added.
OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is unclear why Murati resigned as interim CEO.
(1/4)Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, attends the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in San Francisco, California, U.S., November 16, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File photo acquire license rights
A source familiar with the matter said OpenAI employees are divided between different ideals.
Some – typically those who joined before 2022 – are focused on building artificial general intelligence and are opposed to scaling too quickly without sufficient safeguards, while others, recruited after the success of ChatGPT, are more inclined to quickly build and launch products close to the traditional idea of a silicon. Startup Valley, the source said.
“This weekend was simply the explosion of a bomb waiting to explode,” according to Radio Free Mobile analyst Richard Windsor.
Altman becomes CEO of a new research group within Microsoft and will be joined by other OpenAI colleagues who resigned after his ouster, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in articles on X.
Among those joining Altman at Microsoft are senior researchers Szymon Sidor and Jakub Pachocki, according to Brockman.
Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and has staked its future on the startup, offering what it calls AI co-pilots to business customers based on OpenAI technology.
“AI represents a great opportunity and potential threat to existing technology leaders. Microsoft is therefore excited to benefit from Altman’s knowledge and vision and prepare for a major new era of technological change,” said Russ Mould, Chief Investment Officer. at AJ Bell.
Microsoft had supported Altman’s return to the startup, sources said, a move that seemed likely just hours before Monday’s announcements. Teasing his expected reconciliation with the OpenAI board, Altman had posted an image of himself on X on Sunday wearing an OpenAI guest badge with the caption: “first and last time wearing one.”
OpenAI researchers see Microsoft’s vast reserves of computing power as essential to developing superintelligent machines. Both Nadella and Shear said their companies remained committed to their partnership, while resources would also flow to Altman’s new group at Microsoft.
“We look forward to moving quickly to provide them with the resources they need to succeed,” Nadella said.
In a separate article on X, Altman shared Nadella’s message with the words “the mission continues.”
Reporting by Jeffry Dastin and Anna Tong in San Francisco, Krystal Hu in New York and Akash Sriram, Aditya Soni and Urvi Dugar, Shubham Kalia and Arsheeya Bajwa in Bengaluru and Stephanie Kelly in New York Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Miyoung Kim, Sam Holmes, Susan Fenton, Chizu Nomiyama and Anil D’Silva
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Jeffrey Dastin is a Reuters correspondent based in San Francisco, where he reports on the technology industry and artificial intelligence. He joined Reuters in 2014, where he initially wrote about airlines and travel from the New York bureau. Dastin has a degree in history from Yale University. He was part of a team that examined Amazon.com’s lobbying around the world, for which he won a SOPA Award in 2022.
Anna Tong is a Reuters correspondent based in San Francisco, where she reports on the technology industry. She joined Reuters in 2023 after working at the San Francisco Standard as a data editor. Tong previously worked at tech startups as a product manager and at Google where she worked on user insights and helped manage a call center. Tong graduated from Harvard University. Contact:4152373211
New York-based correspondent covering the US crude market and member of the energy team since 2018 covering the oil and fuel markets as well as federal policy around renewable fuels. Contact: 646-737-4649
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