Sam Altman won’t return as CEO of OpenAI, despite efforts from the company’s executives to bring him back, co-founder and board director Ilya Sutskever told staff Sunday night.
After a weekend of negotiations with the board of directors that fired him Friday, as well as with its remaining leaders and top investors, Altman will not return to the startup he co-founded in 2015, this person said. Emmett Shear, co-founder of video streaming site Twitch, will take over as interim CEO, Sutskever said.
The board's reconsideration of Altman suggests that it may have underestimated the extensive reaction from the global community, and is feeling the pressure from investors like Microsoft who have heavily invested in OpenAI's technology.
The initial blog post by OpenAI announcing Altman's dismissal attributed it to his inconsistent transparency in communications with the board, thereby impeding its ability to fulfill its responsibilities. Lightcap's memo clarified that the dismissal was a result of communication breakdown between Altman and the board. This led to OpenAI President Greg Brockman's resignation in solidarity with Altman.
In an internal memo obtained by Axios, OpenAI COO Brad Lightcap critiqued the manner of Altman's dismissal and clarified that Altman was not fired due to any misconduct or issues related to financial, business, safety, or privacy/security practices.
As previously reported, several sources suggest that a cultural conflict with OpenAI Chief Scientist Ilya Sutskever over safety concerns and OpenAI's commercial direction was the primary cause for Altman's dismissal. Sutskever, a board member, is believed to have led the dismissal, which was unexpected for both Altman and Brockman.
Venture capitalist Will Hubbard speculates, "The best case for the board is that Sam and Greg come back, the 4 board members resign, and lay low for a long while. The worst case for the board is that Sam and Greg start another company, take all OpenAI's talent and future funding, and have a lawsuit brought against them." Unfortunitely, Sam Altman won’t return as CEO of OpenAI, despite efforts from the company’s executives to bring him back. However, no lawsuit plans have been announced.
Further updates are expected as more details become available.
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