SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – A staff revolt at OpenAI, a leading artificial intelligence company, has prompted calls for the reinstatement of ousted chief executive Sam Altman. More than 500 of the company’s 770 employees signed a letter to the board expressing outrage over the way Altman and his co-founder Greg Brockman were fired. After failed negotiations to bring Altman back, Microsoft announced it had hired him and Brockman to head a new AI unit.
The letter demanded that current board members resign and appoint new lead independent directors, or else the staff would accept positions at Microsoft. The counter-coup, which garnered support from at least one board member, has created uncertainty around the company’s future. Prominent venture investors urged the board to rectify the situation, while a planned stock sale worth up to $1 billion hung in the balance.
The exact reasons for Altman’s dismissal remain unclear, with the board citing concerns about his commitment to OpenAI’s mission. Following the breakdown of talks to reinstate Altman, the board appointed an interim chief executive and denied reports of a safety disagreement as a factor in the decision. Despite the turmoil, Microsoft reaffirmed its commitment to the partnership with OpenAI.
OpenAI, known for its influential ChatGPT chatbot, has been at the forefront of the AI boom, drawing significant investment and spurring innovation in the industry. Altman’s plans to raise further investment from Microsoft underscore the significance of the partnership between the two companies.