Are you ready to bring more awareness to your brand? Consider becoming a sponsor for The AI Impact Tour. Learn more about the opportunities here.
In a shocking twister to the saga unfolding at OpenAI, news broke Monday morning before 6am that 500 of 770 employees at OpenAI have asked the remaining board at OpenAI to resign. As of Monday afternoon, the number had increased to 700, reporter Ashlee Vance said in a tweet.
In a letter signed by twelve high-ranking employees, including, surprisingly co-founder Ilya Sutskever, the group said they may quit if the board members did not resign immediately. The letter had support from 505 of the company’s 700 employees, reporter Kara Swisher said in a tweet early Monday, in which she shared a copy of the letter.
In the letter, the group of leaders said they had listened to the board’s concerns after the decision to fire CEO Sam Altman, and tried to cooperate with the board members to bring stabilization, but that the board members did not respond with specific facts or any written evidence about its allegations. The group said that it came to the realization that the board was not capable of carrying out its duties, and were negotiating in bad faith.
The group said that within two days of the decision, the board had replaced interim CEO Mira Murati “against the best interests of the company. You also informed the leadership team that allowing the company to be destroyed ‘would be consistent with the mission.’”
The AI Impact Tour
Connect with the enterprise AI community at VentureBeat’s AI Impact Tour coming to a city near you!
“Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI,” the letter continued. “We are unable to work for or with people that lack competence, judgement and care for our mission and employees.”
The group said that Microsoft had assured it that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at the new subsidiary should they choose to join. (In separate news early Monday, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella announced he had hired former CEO Altman, co-founder Greg Brockman and others to join a new effort at Microsoft.) The twelve said they would resign imminently unless all the current board members resign and the board appoints two new lead independent directors, such as Bret Taylor and Will Hurd, and reinstates Sam Altman and Greg Brockman.
What was surprising was that co-founder Sutskever was a signer on the letter. It was widely reported Friday, including by co-founder Greg Brockman who provided a timeline of events, that Sutskever had led the firing process for Altman. But in this light, it could be that Sutskever may have agreed to go along with the initial board decision, given that the majority of the board had voted in favor of firing Altman, and led the conversation because of his role as a company executive, and then changed his mind after the weekend’s events. Shortly before the letter was released, Sutskever tweeted that he “deeply regretted” his participation in the board’s actions.
Update: 8:20 a.m.: The threat of mass-defection from OpenAI remains a big wildcard for Microsoft, which by all appearances has come out the winner of this saga, and which saw its shares leap by 1 percent in early-morning trading Monday.
Update 1:27 p.m.: The number of employees who have signed the letter has increased to 700.
VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.