OpenAI Employees Demand Board Resignation, Threaten Mass Exodus

Turmoil and leadership shakeup at AI pioneer amid CEO’s ouster, Microsoft’s involvement, with OpenAI employees letter of resignation

In the last twist of events at the most famous AI company, over 700 OpenAI employees sent a letter the board of directors, have calling for a complete overhaul of the company’s board, following the sudden dismissal of CEO, Sam Altman, and the subsequent hiring of Altman by Microsoft to lead an advanced AI research unit.

Board’s Decision, Employees’ Backlash

The weekend began with the internet buzzing with OpenAI’s board’s decision to remove Altman, citing a lack of transparency in his dealings with the board. An action that was met with immediate resistance from the company’s workforce. 

Now, more than 500 employees, including senior figures like the company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Mira Murati – newly appointed interim CEO, and Ilya Sutskever, co-founder and board member, accused the board of mismanagement and failure to provide valid, factual, evidence for their allegations against Sam Altman.

In the employees’ open letter, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, expressed their inability to work under a leadership they view as incompetent and negligent towards the company’s mission.

“The process through which you terminated Sam Altman and removed Grey Brockman from the board has jeopardized all of this work and undermined our mission and company. Your conduct has made it clear you did not have the competence to oversee OpenAI,” the letter stated.

They threatened a mass resignation, stating their readiness to follow Altman to Microsoft unless the board resigns and reinstates both Altman and Greg Brockman, the former OpenAI president.

“Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI. We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees,” it added.

OpenAI’s Demise Is Microsoft’s Inception

Microsoft swiftly capitalized on this discord by hiring OpenAI co-founders Sam Altman and Brockman to head their new AI research division. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, emphasized the company’s readiness to provide resources for their success, hinting at a more aggressive AI development approach than what was reportedly favored by the OpenAI board.

The letter from OpenAI employees raised serious questions about the company’s governance structure and its impact on the AI industry’s future. The employees demanded the resignation of the current board and the appointment of new independent leaders, proposing tech veteran Bret Taylor and politician Will Hurd for these roles.

“We, the undersigned [over 700 employees], may choose to resign from OpenAI and join the newly announced Microsoft subsidiary run by Sam Altman and Greg Brockman. Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join,” the employees shared in the letter.

“We will take this step imminently, unless all current board members resign, and the board appoints two new lead independent directors […],” the letter added.

This internal crisis at OpenAI not only threatens the company with a potential loss of its workforce but also positions Microsoft as a potentially dominant player in the AI space, possibly acquiring the expertise of nearly the entire OpenAI team.

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