In a stunning turn of events, 95% of OpenAI’s workforce, totaling 770 employees, has reportedly issued an ultimatum to the company’s board, demanding the reinstatement of ex-CEO Sam Altman. The threat of a mass exodus emerged as the number of signatories on a letter demanding Altman’s return continued to climb throughout Monday, according to CBS News.
The letter, initially reported by Wired and shared by tech journalist Kara Swisher, was signed by prominent figures within the organization, including CTO Mira Murati and COO Brad Lightcap. It claimed that Altman’s abrupt firing had “jeopardized all of [OpenAI’s] work and undermined our mission and company.” The employees further expressed their intention to resign and follow Altman to Microsoft if the entire board did not step down.
Among the signatories were key figures such as chief scientist Ilya Sutskever and Jan Leike, the co-lead of OpenAI’s “superalignment” team. Sutskever publicly regretted his involvement in Altman’s removal, while Leike asserted that the entire board should resign.
The letter also criticized the replacement of interim CEO Mira Murati, stating that her removal was against the best interests of the company. The discontent among OpenAI staff follows a chaotic weekend, culminating in Altman and former president Greg Brockman joining a new AI team at Microsoft, despite efforts by investors and current employees to reinstate Altman as OpenAI CEO.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s announcement on Sunday added to the turmoil, revealing the departure of key OpenAI figures to join the tech giant’s new venture. OpenAI responded by appointing Emmett Shear, former CEO of Twitch and advocate of slower AI development, as its interim CEO.
The board of the corporation is facing a great deal of criticism from the workforce regarding how Altman’s departure was handled. Altman was fired by the board, citing his purported inconsistent candor as the cause. The leadership of the company was unclear at the time of publishing because neither OpenAI nor Microsoft had replied to calls for comment.