The entrepreneur, fired Friday by his board of directors, was hired Sunday evening by Microsoft to lead a new advanced research team on artificial intelligence.
The OpenAI soap opera, which began on Friday with the unexpected dismissal of its boss Sam Altman, experienced a new major twist this Monday afternoon. 490 OpenAI employees, almost the entire workforce, threaten in a letter addressed to the company’s board of directors to resign collectively if the entrepreneur was not reinstated to his position. “You have jeopardized all of our work and undermined both our mission and this company. Your conduct shows that you do not have the skills to supervise OpenAI», they write.
The employees are therefore demanding the resignation of all the directors. “The signatories reserve the right to resign from OpenAI in order to join the new Microsoft entity that Sam Altman will lead. Microsoft assured us that they are ready to hire all OpenAI employees who wish to do so“, can we read in this letter published by Wired.
Among the signatories is Ilya Sutskever, administrator and scientific director of OpenAI who was allegedly behind the dismissal of Sam Altman. On the social networkdeeply regret having participated in the decision of the board of directors. I never wanted to harm OpenAI. I love everything we’ve built and will do everything in my power to fix this company.» Sam Altman responded with heart emojis.
Microsoft hires Sam Altman
A few hours earlier, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that the co-founder and former CEO of OpenAI will join the American group to lead a new advanced research team on artificial intelligence. OpenAI is the company behind the chatbot ChatGPT, launched last year.
The most famous face in the AI industry will be joined by Greg Brockman, president of OpenAI who was removed from his position on Friday, “as well as other colleagues», announced Satya Nadella. On X, several employees and members of management published the message “OpenAI is nothing without its employees», a sign that they are preparing to resign to join Sam Altman at Microsoft. Among them, Mira Murati, director of technology and short-lived interim general manager, and Brad Lightcap, director of operations. Several researchers have also announced their departure.
“I’m very excited to see you become the leader of this new entity, Sam. We’ve learned over the years how to give founders and innovators enough space to build independent entities and cultures within Microsoft, such as with GitHub , Mojang Studio [créateur du jeu vidéo Minecraft, ndlr] and LinkedIn“, continued the CEO of Microsoft. “The mission continues», reacted to this announcement Sam Altman, 38 years old, on the social network X.
Former Twitch boss named head of OpenAI
This announcement came following a breathtaking weekend, where OpenAI investors tried to use all their weight to force the administrators to bring Sam Altman back in charge, then to resign. The negotiations, which took place at the company’s headquarters on Sunday in the presence of the entrepreneur, ended in failure.
Another surprise this Monday morning: the OpenAI board of directors chose Emmett Shear, former boss of the video platform Twitch (Amazon), as new interim leader. “I accepted this position because I believe OpenAI is one of the most important companies around today.“, he wrote, while committing for the next 30 days to clarifying the reasons for Sam Altman’s departure and to “reform the management team (…) to make it a force capable of obtaining results for our clients“.
Satya Nadella specified in his press release that his teams were “Looking forward to getting to know and working with Emmett Shear and the new OpenAI leadership team“. Microsoft has invested more than $10 billion in OpenAI and has integrated its technologies into its own products, such as the Bing search engine or the Microsoft 365 office suite.
The OpenAI board of directors created a surprise on Friday by announcing the dismissal with immediate effect of Sam Altman following “a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he had not always been candid in his communications with the board, hindering his ability to fulfill his responsibilities“.
This instance no longer has “confidence in his ability to lead OpenAI“, she then added. Several managers of the company founded at the end of 2015 have since announced their resignation.
The board of directors reports to the non-profit OpenAI Foundation, which oversees its commercial arm OpenAI LT. Its mission is to ensure that the company never deviates from its original mission, established in 2015: to create safe artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity. No OpenAI investors are represented on this board, which was previously composed of Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, research director Ilya Sutskever and several independent directors.
The first version of ChatGPT going live on November 30, 2022 kicked off a race in artificial intelligence (AI). Widely considered a revolution comparable to the advent of the internet, generative AI makes it possible to produce texts, lines of code, images and sounds upon simple request in everyday language. It also raises serious concerns about the dangers for democracy (massive disinformation) or employment (replaced professions), in particular.